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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Here Comes The Rain Again

There's a typhoon blowing through Japan - or more importantly, through my city of Ohtawara-shi in Tochigi-ken (Tochigi Prefecture), Japan - today, Thursday, September 19, 1991.

I'm from Toronto, Canada. We don't get typhoons, tsunami or earthquakes or volcanic eruptions. We get snow - not a lot of it, mind you. People are of the misconception that Canada is a vast wasteland of ice and snow, that we use sled dogs to get to work and then back to our igloo homes... or that we just got electricity 10 years ago. Some people actually believe that crap.

Some people in Canada do live like that - but that's only during the winter a way up north near the Arctic Circle. Toronto is actually more southernly than many parts of the U.S. - and I'm not just talking about Alaska!

Snow... we get some snow - and yes, it's cold... but we're actually just above a so-called snow-belt that dumps snow on Buffalo in the US. Yes, we maybe get 8-inches of snow in a storm... and maybe only have three or fours storms a year... but that's it. We still walk to work or school - we just dress warmly. Sometimes I even wear gloves - but never a hat! That would mess up my hair.

And as far as snow and Ohtawara... This past winter  1990-92, we got a lot of snow... the difference is it melts in two days, unlike Toronto where it tends to stay until March. And cold? You bet. Inside it feels colder as there does not seem to be a lot of insulation between the walls in Japanese buildings. I asked about that once, and was told that because of the humidity in the Spring, Summer and Fall, Japanese building don't have insulation and are not as air-tight so as to allow the building to breath. If you are cold, use a kotasu, electric blanket and/or a gas heater - just remember to open a window to vent the gas. So... I'm supposed to open a window to vent the gas... but doesn't the open window let more cold in? Yup. Welcome to Japan.

I complained about how cold I was, and my office - the Ohtawara Board of Education (OBOE) purchased a combination heater/air-conditioner that was very powerful... and I never sweat or froze again - unless I left the confines of my apartment. True.

This is just to tell you that I had never seen natural disasters or weather like what Japan has at any time before in my life.

Oh - and the number of times Godzilla has gone stomping through Ohtawara-shi looking for Mothra!? It's ridiculous... I mean, my first experience with a Godzilla-like creature was a single cockroach in my apartment the day I moved in 13+ months ago. Aside from some spiders on steroids, I've not encountered any other bug in my place.

Stereotypes. Screw'em.

My impression of the Japan prior to arriving was that here were geisha everywhere. I haven't seen one yet! And that all of the men were dressed in navy blue pinstripe suits, wore glasses, had an attache case, straight black hair and had no sense of humour.

Okay... that might have been a poor example of showing how stupid stereotypes are. There are more than enough men in Japan who fit that description. But sense of humour? These guys are stupid funny - and I mean that they are hilarious!

Anyhow... while Tokyo does indeed get its fair share of earthquakes every day (some of which you might even notice), tsunami and volcanic eruptions that affect the country are exceedingly rare. Why am I mentioninig this? It's because there's a typhoon blowing in Ohtawara right now! It's actually typhoon season!

Really? In Canada we have duck season and construction season - but typhoon season? That's insane! Fortunately, there are only about 5-6 typhoons in the late summer, early fall.

I'm just trying to tell you that okay, for maybe 15 days a year in Ohtawara, it rains - hard. In Toronto, it's the same - but it's snowing. It's the same, but different. Welcome to life as a gaijin (foreigner) in Japan.

I'm up at 6:45AM, and despite being in a good mood these past two days, I awake feeling very tired.
It's pouring rain.

Fortunately I have an umbrella, which I take with me as I ride my bicycle to Ohtawara Chu Gakko (Ohtawara Junior High School) where I work (this week) as an assistant English teacher on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme.

Unfortunately for me, the umbrella last a whole five minutes before the typhoon's winds shred the fabric covering me.

I am now soaked. My navy blue suit weighs a ton thanks to all of the water it has soaked up, and I'm also riding head-first into the storm.

What's worse, though, is that this is only the beginning of the storm.

(And... just for you, oh reader... here in 2011, I found out that what I was just in - didn't even qualify as a typhoon! In fact... it wasn't even directly over Ohtawara!

Here's some data on Tropical Storm Luke (the actual storm - I found this info in 2011) :
Tropical Storm Luke formed from a disturbance that moved through the Northern Marianas and formed a depression on the 14th of September just to the west of the islands. The depression began to slowly intensify as it moved towards the west-northwest and Tropical Storm Luke was named on the 15th of September. Luke reached peak intensity of 60 mph (97 km/h) prior to recurving to the northeast and weakening due to increased shear. Tropical Storm Luke then paralleled the southeastern Japan coastline, dropping heavy rains. The resulting flooding and landslides killed 8 people and left 10 others missing prior to Luke turning extratropical east of central Honshū Island.

So... despite it not being a typhoon, people died.

Teachers at the school did dig deep and find some clothes for me to wear - it's all sportswear - but it's dry and very warming, both physically and emotionally. They even dug out some slippers for me to wear that actually fit me (almost).

 I actually could ring water from my suit - apparently you shouldn't do that, however, as it tends to make the suits all wrinkly. Some of the female teachers took my suit and hung it up to dry, and watched as a small river fell from it nearly drowning the home economics teacher in the process.

I have six very hot cups of o-cha (Japanese green tea) and then have to pee for four minutes straight. The time was straight... my urine strain was a little wobbly.

Maybe the stars are starting to align up for me? I'm tired and luckily only have two classes to teach at school. I do very little, but that's okay. It doesn't matter because everyone from teachers to students is polite and warm. Perhaps it's because everyone knows that the last tie I was here I was stalked by a university student on a week-long internship program to learn how to teach.

You can read about that HERE, but just know that it was some of the best sex I had ever had! The problem was when she started stalking me, dropping out of school to follow me around, and then dropping by when any guests I had over left so we could screw each other's brains out until the morning, when I would go to work for days and days with out sleep. It was a very tiring  - but wholly satisfying experience.

The head of the English department - Inoue-sensei comes up to me at 4:15PM and asks me to do a recording of an English test for him since I'll be at another school next week.

He' such a nice man! I miss him so much! Besides being a great friend, he also told me so much about life in Japan - a lot of which I have already shared with you, and many more that I will share in the future!

Inoue-sensei gives me a couple of telephone cards for my collection (see HERE for what I picked up), and then asks if I'll be free one Sunday in October to accompany him on a trip to Nasushiobara! I have no idea why, but sure!

It stops raining - or typhooning - or I guess tropical storming as I am about to go home, so at least I'm not going to get soaked again.

At home, Matthew my friend and local legend calls - we ride out for a ramen (noodle) dinner. We then rent a couple of movies and watch one back at my place.

When Catherine Willens calls again at 10PM, I kick Matthew out so I can talk uninhibited until midnight. When we are done exchanging more life stories, she tells me she only actually called to invite me to a party. I can't recall when or where, but it seems she wants me to be her date.

I  guess she doesn't know that while I no longer have a girlfriend in Ashley, am trying to sleep with Karen, and trying date Shoko, I am still a friend-with-benefits with my ex. There's probably a few other women I'm chasing or am sleeping with this week that I haven't mentioned, but since I either can't remember their name or I haven't met them yet, it doesn't matter.    

Before heading to bed, I stay up and do more of my puzzle on the Tower of Babel. The easy part of the puzzle is now finished. Now all I have to do is put together 500 pieces of white fluffy clouds.

Somewhere I am wrinkled,
Andrew Joseph
Today's blog is sung to you by The Eurythmics: Here Comes The Rain Again: POURING

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Yakuza vs USA - A True Story

Hi all... my friend Mike has written a pretty interesting piece on the USA's decision to wipe out the Yakuza.

Geez... first the war on drugs. Them the war on poverty (what did the poor ever do to the US? - that was a joke). The war on illegal immigrants - especially if you are Mexican. The war against those who have weapons of mass destruction as an excuse to go in and get some oil. The war against violence. The war against war.

Look... excluding those who get invaded or attacked, I know we respect the USA and its decision to act as a global policeman... but the Yakuza? How about we (Canada is an ally of the USA) pick a war we can win... like that one back in 1983 when it took over Grenada. The US incursion occurred after a coup had overthrown the old socialist leader. Why did it attack tiny little Grenada? Apparently it was building an airport with help from Cuba - which Grenada claimed was for tourism. Then president Ronald Reagan said it was for Soviet use. Nyet, nyet Soviet! (roughly translated as No, no Ruskies!) Shortly thereafter, the USA announced that it would help finish the airport... to develop tourism. Maybe the US just felt slighted it wasn't asked for help first.

By the way... there's a Time Life series of books - 24 of them  - on the Attack on Grenada. One book for each hour it took to take-over Grenada.

Yakuza? Pshaw. This one will be a comic book miniseries.Hell... it sounds like one already. Heads-up US. Beware of tattooed men with perms who might be missing a finger.  READ ON.

Andrew Joseph
PS: There's no Time Life series on the US attack against Grenada. But it does sound like something that publisher would have done!

Novocaine For The Soul

It's Friday, April 20, 1991. It's freezing when I wake up at 6:45AM! It's only September here in Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken, Japan! Last year I was sweating my butt off until November!

Strangely enough, it's not raining today. I thought we were supposed to be getting wiped out by a typhoon - or was that all it had yesterday?

Whoops - at 9AM just before classes actually start at Ohtawara Chu Gakko (Ohtawara Junior High School), it begins to rain. I knew the weather wouldn't let me down!

For some reason, I don't have any classes scheduled for today. Shibata-sensei doesn't tell me why, so I sit here alone in the teacher's office being bored.

Did you know that crossword difficulty is inversely proportional to the amount of free time you have? The more free time you have, the easier the puzzle, thereby ensuring you will be bored quicker.

I have done two puzzles in ink without any errors - and not much hesitation on my part... so I start reading a Sherlock Holmes book I borrowed from Matthew. Matthew is a major fan of the opium-riddled detective, and I have to admit, after watching a lot of the episodes on television these past few months, it has made me want to see what the heck the writing was like. Apparently, the creators of the television show were exceedingly faithful to the writings of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I wish I had a cool name like Conan.

After lunch in the teacher's room, I sit and stare at nothing. Screw this. I want to go home so I can do nothing there.

So at 4PM, I go home and relax... I'm not sure if that's possible considering how little I actually did today, but I do my best.

I watch some sumo (Japanese wrestling) and have found myself really getting into the whole sport.

Ashley comes over at 6PM. She was sick today and didn't go to work at the Ohtawara Boys High School, but she isn't too sick to stay away. I guess this is where I have to be a friend for a few hours later tonight.

So I do. After watching a few videos from back home, we fool around where I show her a neat trick involving my gold chain which she really loves.

This is the way my day ends - with a bang and a whimper.

Somewhere no longer freezing,
Andrew Joseph
Today's music is by: Eels: NUMB

Friday, July 29, 2011

Baseball Great Irabu Found Dead

Former baseball star Irabu Hideki (surname first) who along with Nomo Hideki were pioneers in Japanese baseball players coming over to America, was found dead in his home Los Angeles on Wednesday, July 27 - apparently by suicide.

For a detailed read on the story, let me direct you to my former employers the Toronto Star: HERE.

I was going to put together a nice retrospect of Irabu-san complete with some of the Japanese ball cards I have, but I thought it more prudent to get the story out to all who may be interested.

Andrew Joseph  

It's Oh So Quiet

It's another pretty good day for me. It's Wednesday, September 18, 1991 and I'm teaching this week at Ohtawara Chu Gakko (Ohtawara Junior High School) here in Ohtawara-shi (Ohtawara City), Tochigi-ken (Tochigi Prefecture), Japan.

I've been here for 13 months+ and I've had my ups and downs in Japan - most of it having to do with women - and not the fact I am living alone for the first time in my life, and doing so in a country I know next to nothing about.

My students are obedient, polite, smart and fun to be around - unlike some school's I won't mention. It was Kaneda Kita Chu Gakko (Kaneda North Junior High School).

I play baseball with the students after lunch again and have a great time talking in Japanese and English to them, as they do the same! This is what being a teacher on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme is all about!

Since there's a teacher's meeting at 4PM, I get to leave early. despite being called a teacher here - I'm not really., I'm a walking, talking, hairy tape recorder - but it's okay. The job is actually easy at good school's like this where the students listen.

After riding home on my bicycle - it's a 10-minute trip, I head over to my back doctor. It's been seven weeks since I last had an adjustment, and man, it feels great! I guess I was merely out of sorts all this past time.

I go shopping and buy a Japanese ready-made meal, instead of going to a fast-food restaurant. If I could learn how to cook this stuff, I'd feel more Japanese than gaijin (foreigner), but cooking for one is an arduous, time-consuming chore.

Back home I eat and finish off half of the bottom of my 5000 piece puzzle of The Tower of Babel - and appropriate theme considering my Japanese language skills are not very good - and I doubt they ever will be. I'm not very good with languages - and even failed Grade 12 English once! (I am a writer now in 2011! So take that high school!)

I go to bed at 12:30AM - after deciding not to call up any more new female JET arrivals to chat. I enjoy the comfort of being alone.

Ashley, my friend-with-benefits (and ex-girlfriend here) did call me up to say she wouldn't be coming for our kyudo (Japanese archery) lesson today as she has the runs. I'm supposed to go by myself tonight, but decide I'm not really in the mood for the frustration the sport brings me.

Oh well... sometimes a guy just needs a night off to relax rather than to be everybody else's monkey.

Somewhere babbling to myself,
Andrew Joseph
Our musical guest sponsoring my title (okay, the song I chose for the title is played by:) is Björk: NICEANDICY-COOL. Her squinty eyes remind me of Ashley's.
PS - Where's all the excitement? Have you ever heard of the 'eye of the storm'? It's slowly coming. Patience, young Jedi.   

Thursday, July 28, 2011

U.S. JETS Want To Help Japan

Or... perhaps I should call it: Less Filler - More Thriller!

Here's a story that appeared in the July 27, 2011 edition of The Japan Times (I saw it on-line), followed by my comments: 

Young Americans who will teach English at schools here on an international exchange and teaching program said Tuesday they want to help Japan recover from the March catastrophe. According to the U.S. Embassy and an organizer of the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program, around 700 are coming from the U.S. this summer. About 400 of them arrived Sunday. In total, some 1,600 JETs from 27 nations will come to Japan this summer. 
Wow... I am sure glad that the U.S. JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme teachers are interested in helping Japan out after the fallout from the twin disasters on March 11, 2011 - namely the  9.0 Magnitude earthquake and devastating tsunami. I was initially worried they might not want to be involved at all!

Okay... that was sarcasm. It's a great story. I hope they do as they say they will do.

But... what about the rest of the people soon to be arriving in Japan? There are 26 other countries involved in the JET Programme! Are they not interested in doing something to help Japan out? 

Apparently not. It's only the U.S. At least that's what the story implies. Or is it inferring? Whatever.

As a former newspaper journalist with the Brampton Times, Aurora Banner, Newmarket Era and Toronto Star here in Canada - as well as being a three-year veteran of the JET Programme - I'm slightly offended by this innocuous little story.

It's cool that JET USA wrote that little press release to make their Programme look good. But did no one else think to do that?

Let's suppose that some did - could they not get a mention?

Let's suppose no one else mentioned it at all - the Japan Times is a communications giant. Could they not have made a few calls to various JET airbases - or whatever their headquarters are called and asked if they too are sending over people to Japan who are interested in helping out the country? 

Just think... if you had called up any other country's JET Programme and got a positive answer - that they too are interested in helping out Japan... well, then I guess you have a non-story.

But imagine if one of those countries said, "No, we're not interested in helping Japan" the media could have had a field day!

Sorry... that was lazy journalism by the Japan Times. But what's worse is that it's also not that compelling a story.

How about just stating that new JETS are coming in from 27 countries (list them), telling us how many are coming, and how many in total JET people will that make for 2011... or how many people have on the programme in total since inception? 

Geez... if you want to make a big deal about it... tell us the story of the JET Programme. Who's brainchild? When did it start? How was the initial reaction to having a gaijin (foreigner) stand up and team-teach with a Japanese teacher of English in the classroom? 

Tell a story. 

Don't use JET propaganda as newspaper filler. The JET Programme and all in it are proud of what we did and continue to do. 

We are not filler... and despite what the Japan Times filler piece says, I'm pretty sure we (the newcomers) are all eager to do something to help out the country.

Hell... I do that pretty much everyday in this blog.

Somewhere looking for a filler piece,
Andrew Joseph  

Sunny Days

It’s Tuesday, September 17, 1991 and I feel better today, though with the lack of sleep I am still mentally and physically tired. Emotionally – ahhhh, pretty good.

It might be because today I get to go to work at Ohtawara Chu Gakko (Ohtawara Junior High School) here in Ohtawara-shi (Ohtawara City), Tochigi-ken (Tochigi Prefecture), Japan. After arriving here from Toronto nearly 14 months, I have been enjoying my time here as an assistant English English teacher on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme, though I am unaware of what Canada got in exchange for me. Probably peace and quiet and a higher domestic IQ.

This school is the largest in Ohtawara – and while the kids aren’t necessarily the smartest or the nicest in Japan, they are rather smart and nice – and that’s good enough for me, especially since I spent last week at the what I have dubbed “The School From Hell” – one Kaneda Kita Chu Gakko (Kaneda North Junior High School). I might be wrong in that assessment, but it’s how I feel.

Here at Dai Chu (the nickname for Ohtawara Junior High School) the students come walking calmly up tp me with smiles on their faces to not only greet me, but to talk to me in English first, and then Japanese to see if I have increased my language skills. I have. Sadly not by a lot.

I haven’t seen these kids in a few months, and I have missed them even if I don’t know them by name, I know them by face and actions. They are great kids and hopefully will be great adults.

After lunch with a third-year class, I play some baseball and have a lot of fun.

The whole day is an exercise in Japan proving to me that all my fears about belonging here are unfounded... I mean, students put their hand up to volunteer answers – it might not really be a first here, but it seems like it.

After an enjoyable day with the kids, I go home and don’t really have to unwind or relax. I already feel that way. I go shopping for some food – dinner and Coca-Cola – I buy some pork tontatsu and rice already cooked and just need to heat it up in my convection oven/microwave.

I head over to my night school class – and while there are only six adults there – well... who cares? We have a great class. Shoko isn’t there – the young lady I like, and who likes me – and while I do wonder where she is, my class is probably better than ever as I can concentrate on teaching and having fun rather than trying not to stare into her beautiful brown eyes or get caught staring at her legs as she demurely shields her face from my hungry eyes.

After class, I ride my bicycle over to the local video rental store and get the 1953 movie The Hitch-hiker (intresting enough written by Robert Joseph - no relation) and try to watch it while doing my puzzle. I stop the movie and instead call up one of the newly arrived women on the JET Programme – Amanda Goodsell, a tall bubbly blonde who has zero to interest in me sexually, but I like her. She’s not only cute and smart but possesses a real sarcastic wit that is a complete turn-on for me. We exchange life stories over the course of two hours.

Why am I calling up new JET arrivals every night? Well, to be honest, I am only calling up new female JET arrivals every night... but I know what the first month was like for me in Japan. No, no one asked me to call up people, but aside from the possibility that I might get laid, I just want to make sure everybody survives unscathed. Helping people makes me feel more alive.

That first month in Japan while completely scary, was euphoric... but that next month... when we started work for the first time... that’s when I started to get stressed out a bit by the enormity of the challenge of trying to survive all day long where you may not be understood by a single person. Fortunately for me, my English teachers at the schools were all pretty damn good – and my bosses at the Ohtawara Board of Education (OBOE) were fantastic at keeping tabs on my general well-being without being snoopy.

Amanda, however, is surprisingly well adjusted. She will do well here.

When we finish talking and do my puzzle again and finish the movie and finally crash at 2:30AM?!

Japan has magically restored by faith in her. Or maybe I just feel happy knowing I don’t have to go back to Hell for a while.

Somewhere it’s a different day,
Andrew Joseph

Today’s blog is by Canadian group Lighthouse: WORKSOHARD

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Soccer & Softball & Prostituition

This blog has been a popular source of information (and too much information about myself, perhaps) the past week and a half, thanks to Japan and the U.S. going head to head in the finals of two Women's World Cup events - soccer and softball. 

While we all know Japan defeated the U.S on penalty kicks in soccer in a dramatic upset, a lot of people also wanted to find out some information on the USA extracting revenge on Japan in softball. 

All Japan - It's A Wonderful Rife can say is: Thanks for coming to check out the stories. Not too many sites had any sort of roster data for the women's soccer. No one else mentioned Japan winning a few other trophies at the soccer tourney, and certainly few news agencies  were even aware that there was a World Cup softball tournament going on.

Sports coverage (at least here in North America) has been found lacking ... and I'm glad to have been a source of information and amusement.

I find it difficult to believe that here in Toronto, with six daily newspapers: Toronto Star; Globe & Mail; National Post; Toronto Sun; 24; and Metro; plus three major 24-hour sports television stations - that there was no coverage of the World Cup of Softball tournament - and I mean zilch, zero, nada. 

If you wanted to watch the softball final - you had to have ESPN3 - a television specialty channel.... something not generally available in Canada unless you pay a premium for it. Even to watch a live stream of it on the ESPN3 website, I had to hook up with my Internet provider - which I was unable to do because the provider - the largest in Canada (they also own one of the sports stations and Toronto Blue Jays baseball team - was not on the list of providers that ESPN3 recognized. 

The rant is not against all of the sports channels and newspapers.... they do what they do and do it well. I'm sure a Hooter's waitress beauty pageant is considered a sport.  .. just like the making of the Sports Illustrated SwimSuit issue (magazine) that is an hour long show on TV. 

Yes... men like women.

However... if I could say this without sounding like a sexist pig... the Women's World Cup of soccer was played with such fervor, passion and skill, I forgot I was watching women. I was watching soccer players.

Because I was unable to watch the softball game on TV, I can not make that same statement - but I bet it was awesome.

Here's my point. On this blog, Prior to the World Cup of Softball final this past Monday July 25, my all-time four top-rated blog articles all dealt with Japan's triumph in soccer the week previous. No surprise.

But now... nine days later, one of the softball stories has taken over 4th place.  

It has now had more hits than my previous #5 blog entry on Japanese schoolgirl prostitutes.

Really? More than schoolgirl prostitutes? That's number 6 now.  

That's the power of sports... or it it really the power of women? I'm actually quite impressed with my readership.

Keep reading! Always more to come!

Andrew Joseph

Hello, I Love You

Hi. It's Monday, September 16, 1991 and I'm somehow surviving here in Japan. I've been here over 13 months living in the fishbowl that is Ohtawara-shi (Ohtawara City), Tochigi-ken, (Tochigi Prefecture), Japan as an assistant English teacher on the JET (Japan Exchnage & Teaching) Programme.

I haven't been in a great mood for the past couple of weeks. Some of it may be due to the euphoria of my mother flying back to Toronto.

Or maybe it's woman concerns: I had an American girlfriend, but now we're just friends... friends-with-benefits, mind you, plus I have another woman (Canadian)  chasing after me that would like to have a boyfriend, but I just want sex from, and then there's the Japanese fox I like, who likes me, but for whatever reason, the fates continue to conspire against us.

Of course, my mood might also be due to a lot of pressure (real or imagined) from having to perform my duties as a teacher last week at the worst school in the city. Or the fact that I haven't actually gone on vacation in a while (though every day in Japan could be considered a vacation by some people).

Or maybe it's because the Japanese like to invite me out for dinner and drinks - but mostly drinks - that I am feeling like an old distillery.

 Or maybe I miss my female stalker who provided me with awesome nights - so much so that I didn't sleep for a week. Only a guy would sleep with his stalker.

 Or maybe its the fact I don't have a girlfriend, and I want the one I can't have. Or maybe its not doing as well as I wanted in a sport I have no business doing well  - kyudo (Japanese archery), or maybe I'm not sleeping enough or maybe... just maybe I like to worry about things.

Personally, I hope all of this angst is due to me no getting laid enough. A month a ago, I was in Thailand and was getting it four times a day from two Thai women I befriended.... the last time with all three of us together. It's tough to go back to 'routine' after that!

 Maybe it's the heat? Maybe I just miss Ashley and the way we were. I feel absolutely awful after telling her last night that my grandfather had died and I was depressed. He had died, but that was in February. My cat died that month, too. Also a friend back home died, as well.

No... probably just miss the regular sex. People... man does not live on bread alone. We need to be regular, despite all of the fiber in bread. 

I spent last night at Ashley's place. She's my current friend-with-benefits. She's very attractive and very, very smart, but not that smart - else why get involved with me. She's an introvert, while I am an introvert pretending to be an extrovert. Apparently, I'm good at it.

And by the way... who goes to Japan to get an American or Canadian girlfriend? Apparently I do. 

Ashley and I get up at 1PM! We snuggle a bit, talk, get up, talk some more, eat some more of her week-old soup, and talk again.

Don't ask me what we talked about. It was pleasant, but I think I was in shock by all of the crap revolving around me and how I don't think I like the person I am becoming. I need to change. Get back to who I was with a hint of who I want to be.

 I leave her place at 3PM - she wants to do laundry, and I don't want to hang out anymore. I need to feed my fish, anyways.

 Back home in my stately apartment (3 bedrooms, LDK, western bathroom and laundry and two balconies - yes... this is Japan, where everyone lives in a rabbit hutch! Not! Maybe in Tokyo. Maybe) i futz around with my puzzle when I get a phone call from fellow AET John Abraham.

He says he'd like to purchase my motorcycle. I bought a low-powewred motorcycle two months ago, and aside from driving it around while testing it before purchasing it, I have not yet been on it. It scares the crap out of me. Considering how my mind is, do you really think I should be riding a motorbike? My board of education office doesn't want me to because they know I'm accident prone - what with being hit twice on separate occasions by cars while riding my bicycle. I wonder if I gave myself brain damage then. It would explain so much.

 So... he quickly comes over, hands me 30,000 yen ($300) and I hand him the motorcycle keys. Yay! I hope he doesn't kill himself.

I did pay 30,000 yen for the damn thing didn't i? I didn't lose money on the deal did I? Oh crap.

I go back to my apartment and call Catherine - another new girl on the JET Programme who seems to like me (she was not mentioned in the diatribe up above). I know... how do I feel down about my wonderful rife when I have women throwing themselves at me?

 We chat until 1:30AM - and wow does she sound hot to trot. 

What does she look like again?

Somewhere trying to remember,
Andrew Joseph
Today's blog title is by The Doors: HELLO!
PS: Crap! I bought the damn motorcycle for 35,000 yen ($350). I lost 500 yen ($50) on this deal! Man... I need to get some real sleep. Maybe tomorrow.

Japan To Roast Beef

On Tuesday, July 26, 2011, Japan revealed a plan to deal with beef contaminated by radiation leaked into the air from the near meltdown at the Dai-ichi (Big One) nuclear facility in Fukushima-ken (Fukushima Prefecture).

The plan calls for the government to purchase all the tainted beef and then burn it in an effort to regain consumer confidence.

At this time, it is thought that some 3,000 cattle are contaminated with radioactive Cesium after being fed straw exposed to the radiation--and these cattle have been shipped across Japan after being processed for human consumption.

Kano Michihiko, Japan's Minister of Agriculture says that the nuclear plant owner and operator, TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) will have to foot the bill, estimated at 2-billion yen ($25-million).

And that's no bull.

Files by Andrew Joseph
PS: Regular life of gaijin story to appear in 10 hours. Sorry... I left it at work!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Norway Bomber Likes Japan

In the "file under 'C' for creepy' news, comes a revelation that Ander Behring Breivik, the accused mass murderer (and confessor) of 76 innocent people in separate bomb and gun attacks in Norway on July 22, 2011 thinks that Japan is a model country.

(Please don't let it be about Japan's immigration policies. Please don't let it be about Japan's immigration policies. Please don't let it be about Japan's immigration policies.)

In a document he had placed in the World Wide Web prior to his murderous spree, Breivik praised Japan for not embracing multiculturalism (Dammit!).

The oft-times rambling 1,500 page manifesto notes that he (Breivik) was on a self-appointed mission to save Europe from the threats of Islam, immigration and multiculturalism.

The wordy document also commended Japan for its policy of not allowing many Muslims to immigrate.

Just so we are all clear, Japan - like an decent first-world country - does not have a ban or limit for any specific or ethnic groups.

This tragedy in Norway might find its roots in fanaticism - the blaming of Muslims for all the world's woes. If people want to remember the past - Europe, heck, the world once blamed those of the Jewish faith for all of its ills.

Japan... you are a decent role model. Yes, you might want to make it easier for people to become actual Japanese citizens, but to be considered a role model for a psychopath - sorry. Breivik is one troubled young man.

More's the pity that there are a lot more people out there - of many religions or faiths or beliefs - that not only think like Breivik, but act like him.

Without getting too preachy, we're all people of the planet Earth. Can't we all just get along?

Andrew Joseph
who is of Indian-descent, Portuguese, too, born in England, grew-up in Canada, and lived in Japan. His dad is a Protestant, he was raised Catholic, is now an agnostic, likes the philosophy of Buddhism and married an Atheist. His family is brown, has a black uncle and mixed black and brown cousins, married a white woman and has a beige child. We don't have a Muslim in the family, but that was hardly from lack of trying. There's still time for a cousin or two. If my family isn't a fine representative of this big blue marble, then I don't know who is.

USA - Japan Softball Boxscore

Hi all - here's a link to the boxscore of last night's USA win over Japan in the final of the Women's 2011 World Cup of Softball.


Andrew Joseph

USA Beats Japanese Women in Softball Final

Team USA wins the 2011 Women's World Cup of Softtball.
The United States extracted some revenge against Japan for the stunning loss in the 2011 Women's World Cup Soccer on Monday evening.

The US Women's softball team beat Japan on July 25, 2011 in the 2011 World Cup Final of Softball, 6-4 to claim its 5th consecutive championship. However, to be fair, Japan did beat the US at the 2008 Olympics to capture the gold medal.

This time, however, at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA,  the US squad also got some payback against Japan for a softball loss earlier this past month in the championship game of the Canadian Open softball tourney.

“It's great to have payback,” exclaimed US third baseman Taylor Hoagland, whose two-run homer in the sixth inning proved to be the difference in the game.

The USA's Jordan Taylor had a three-hit pitching performance through 5-1/3 innings and got the win, while Chlesea Thomas got the last five outs for the save. But it wasn't easy. 

Ricketts, who won two games in World Cup play, gave up a two-out triple to Japan's Yamoda Eri (surname first) in the 7th and last inning, but then caught a pop-up from Okuba Misa to end the game and begin the celebrations for the U.S.

In the third place game held earlier, Canada beat Australia 4-1. The day before, if Canada had been able to defeat Australia, it would have been playing Japan in the finals. Oh, Canada. Still, Canadian pitcher Jennifer Caira went seven innings and gave up an unearned run.

Well done USA - and better luck next time Japan, Canada and Australia. 

Do You Wanna Dance?

I actually had a headline in my diary of: Dancing, drinking, dining and ? So, I'm going to use it in my opening line.

It's Sunday, September 15, 1991 here in lovely Ohtawara City, Tochigi-ken (Tochigi Prefecture), Japan. It's a pity I'm not going to be here much today.

I get up at 9:29AM - exactly one minute before Ashley phones to wake me up. I would have killed her if she had. You know what I mean... you are always ticked off when someone else wakes you up.

Matthew comes over 20 minutes later, and we ride over to Nishinasuno-eki (Nishinasuno train station) and the ride the rails down to the Tochigi capital city of Utsunomiya.

We are supposed to participate in some cultural even with other assistant English teachers (AETs) on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme - international dancing.

I'm pretty sure Matthew is like me - what the hell? Dancing? But, when asked, we have always done our duty while here in Japan. Always. We might occasionally whine about it to each other, but we are always there front and center whenever cultural barriers need to be fortified or broken down.

We don't ride down with Ashley - she must have got on the train before us. Matthew and I take an Express Train to the city, as we missed an earlier one by four minutes. Arriving, we are early and go to the local Robinson's department store and play some video games at their arcade.

I can't remember the name of the game, but the object is to shoot at any alien that moves. Is there a game called Area 51 where you use a hand held gun? When we finish, we both feel like we need to kill someone or something. It was that intense. So, with that in mind, we head over to the dance-thing and proceed to kill the afternoon.

At a Prefectural board room, we practice dancing some of the usual cultural dances that everybody does back in Canada and the United States: The Hawaiian Hula; France's Can-Can; and some redneck line dance which is supposed to represent Canada. Geez... I have watched all of these dances before... but does anybody really want to watch a guy with hairy legs kick up his heels and do the Can-Can? I'm not wearing underwear today! Watch out first row! You know I'm going to be front and center on the stage! Ego? Maybe... But, I also know that is where they will put me.

Fellow AET Alan Broomhead wonders aloud why we are doing this dance stuff when we should be trying to break down the cultural stereotypes. Man... when you are right, Alan, you are right. I need a beer.

During the dances, I am indeed front and center in the show. I think I need to stop answering my phone so I don't get roped into these things. Dancing. Yeesh.

When it's all over (man, I can't dance for beans), Matthew and I, as the more mature people, lead the other AETs to a Japanese fast food place. Okay, Matthew and I aren't really leaders or all that mature... we are just the ones who have been here the longest - though Ashley, who has also been here nearly 14 months, was merely a dance spectator and didn't seem to mind that others - Matthew & I  - were in the spotlight. To be honest, I think Ashley always hates being in the spotlight... and being with me as my boyfriend in Japan was always putting her in some sort of spotlight - probably another reason not to be my boyfriend. I mean... who wants a boyfriend that breaks into a closed pottery museum or gets drunk and wakes up within a previously-locked taxidermy exhibit of a forest scene? Apparently a lot of women, according to the notches on my bedpost... just not the girl I wanted.

More on the spotlight... I wasn't famous... or infamous... I was just the guy with the big mouth and the great big grin that made the Japanese feel at ease. Matthew was like that too - just not as loud or brash as myself. I think he made the more upper-crust and middle-class people at ease, while I handled the lower to middle-class with my bold and daring manner. Matthew, of course, could be every bit the goofball I was, but just chose to show it in small doses. Does that sound right... or even fair, Matthew?

At the restaurant area of Utsunomiya... Matthew and I lead a bunch of people to a Japanese fast food place, while others opt for the next-door pizza place - as they may have been homesick from some gaijin (foreigner) junk food cooking. Personally, I can tolerate it, but Japanese pizzerias aren't the same as the fare back home in Toronto... just like a Chicago pizza is miles apart from a New York-style, etcetera.

We have some great food - and get the gang with us to try Japanese food they have not yet had. We chat with the friendly chef - in English... though Matthew was equally happy to speak to him in Japanese!

Finished, we meet up with the pizza people and lead them over to the Robinson's department store - where some western-style products could be purchased for a premium.

I have Ashley stick close to me because I want her to purchase some make-up for me to cover-up these dark rings around my eyes... but 9000 yen ($90)? Forget it! I'll try and get more sleep.

We then go for a drink or two at the Mexi Restaurant, where one or two drinks actually means seven beers. Ashley has five Tequila Sunrises!

I'm my usual demure self - wild and unruly, and hopefully funny. It's always been my opinion that when I get drunk, I just get louder and not more obnoxious.

When it becomes obvious that my unruliness outweighs any possible charm I possess, Ashley takes me by the hand says good night for me and leads me home.

On the way, I tell her I love her - as a friend... which makes her cry.

We ride our bicycles back from Nishinasuo-eki holding hands all the way to her place., where I breakdown and cry and blather on about how it feels like everybody wants me for something and how I need to go home.

I then tell her my grandfather died recently. That was an attempt to get pity. Grandpa had died back in February and I didn't tell anyone about that.

She leaves me alone in a room to be sad by myself as it's obvious she doesn't know how to act around my act - though she didn't know I was acting. Now that's acting!

So, I put on my shoes and start to leave. She comes after me running and cries as she doesn't know how to act, as I have always been the strong one when it comes to toughing it out here in Japan... and if I feel like I want to go home, how can anyone survive here?

Geez... put some more pressure on me. Fortunately, I'm too drunk to think about that.

We go back into her apartment and make love. Not sex. Love. And then sleep... it's 3AM and the floor is spinning. How the hell can I make love when I'm so drunk the room is spinning? Or is it merely my life spinning out of control?

Somewhere the planet is spinning on the wrong axis,
Andrew Joseph
Today's blog title is by The Beach Boys: DANCE! Though I suppose I could have done David Bowie's LET'S DANCE. Two for the price of one! Who says you can't get value with your blog reading?!
PS: I said my grandfather had died to get pity and sex. That's so frigging low. I am so sorry Ashley. It's funny... I can think of three times now in the first 14 months of Japan where I have been so hammered drunk where I started to cry like a little baby. Clearly the pressure of being popular in Japan and doing everything everyone has asked of me is getting to me... of course... it's usually because of woman problems when I feel at my lowest.
PPS: There's probably a reason why I have only been toasted maybe three times in the past 11 years.
PPPS: Pretty bizarre that despite the plethora of alcohol, I still remembered darn near everything to write it down in my diary. A diary I had never thought of writing before Japan, and never did afterwards. I always knew I would do something with it one day. Even if it means making myself look like an immature jackass. Hey. That's who I was sometimes.
PPPPS: Believe it or not... things start to get better, as once I get over the self-pity crap, I actually feel good about myself - and Japan had better watch-out!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Japan's Soccer Team Gets Bonus

A sponsor of the Japan Woman's 2011 World Cup soccer team has given a bonus of one million yen ($12,680) to each member of the team following their surprise triumph over the US last Sunday.

Kirin - makers of soft drinks and my favourite Japanese beer, is also an official sponsor of the Japan Football Association, or what you Yanks call soccer.

“The buzz of excitement has been continuing since the final and we decided on the bonus straight away,” says company president Matsuzawa Koichi (surname first).

Japan is the first ever team from Asia to win the Women's World Cup of Soccer and especially since the past few months has seen Japan digging itself out from a bad earthquake, tsunami and near melt down of a nuclear power facility in Fukushima-ken (Fukushima Prefecture) , the populace has fondly embraced the team as heroes.

To say that the team - nicknamed the Nadeshiko, a large pink flower - has caused some soccer mania back home is an understatement. Food products are now being called Nadeshiko in an effort to capitalize (though some did have the name before), toys, shirts, towels, pencil, erasers, book allegedly written by the players on themselves, books on the team... pick one and it's out there. If you haven't seen it, ask for it, and someone will make one for you in two minutes. While Nadeshiko souvenirs are a dime a dozen as far as rarities, they certainly aren't a dime a dozen in cost. 

It doesn't matter to the Japanese fans looking to show their support for their heroes... everybody wins... though this blog suspects it's the merchants that are loving the win over the USA a little bit more.

I wonder if Japan's woman's softball team beats the USA in the World Cup Final today if there will be such national celebrating? Personally, I hope so. 

Go Japan! 

Andrew Joseph

Japan And US At War Again

Just when you thought it was safe to back into the Sports Section of your newspaper - Japan and Canada are facing off yet again.

This time it's the 2011 world softball championships known as the World Cup of Softball VI.

Again, with the women as the combatants, Japan will take on the USA on Monday night, July 25, 2011 at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in the US.

But the USA nearly missed the date, as they were locked in a 0-0 tie in the 4th Inning on Sunday against Great Britain. But... by the end of the 4th inning, Team USA brought in 10 runs and ended the game with a 'mercy rule' in effect. Too bad from Great Britain. But great job by the USA.

While Team USA won twice on Saturday, it only got to Sunday's match after Australia defeated the favoured (by this blog) Canadian team.

One of the games the USA won on Saturday was against Japan, 8-4... but this time in the championship game the Yankees will be going up against Japan's ace: Ueno Yukiko (surname first).

Previously, Ueno tossed a three-hit 7-0 shutout this past month against the USA this month in the finals of the Canadian Open. Ueno also was the winning pitcher in Japan’s 3-1 gold medal winning game in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Both the USA and Japan finished with 4-1 records in the round robin of the World Cup. 

The US is looking for its fifth straight World Cup title, but most of the current Team USA roster are first-year players on the national team. 

World Cup of Softball Results
2005: Japan defeated the USA 3-1. Australia 3rd, China 4th;

2006: USA defeated Japan in 2006, 5-2. Canada 3rd. Australia 4th;

2007: USA defeated Japan 3-0. Canada 3rd. China 4th;

(2008: Olympics Japan 3-1 over the USA. Australia 3rd).

2009: USA beat Australia  3-1. Canada 3rd, Japan 4th. 

2010: USA beat Japan 5-1. Team USA Futures 3rd. Canada 4th.  

I Feel Fine

So there I was... sleeping... in my nice tatami mat room on my Queen-sized bed, courtesy of one of my fans in Ohtawara, who offered the bed to my Ohatawara Board of Education (OBOE) office after it became known that I had some back pain that was being aggravated by sleeping on a futon.

Actually, it was probably more aggravated by my having sex on the futon... and the knee burns from the tatami! Oy gevalt!

Anyhow.. sleeping... it's Saturday, September 14, 1991 here in Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken, Japan.

Doorbell... okay... I'm going to ignore it.

It's not students from any of the junior high schools I teach at because they would have to ring it 100 times already.

Fifteen seconds later, the doorbell rings again. Ignore it. I'm dead.

Damn! A third ring!

I crawl out of bed and quietly make my way to the front door and peer through the peephole to see who the hell it is... Ashley?

Ashley is my ex-girlfriend here in Japan for the first nine months of my current-14 month stay. We are now friends-with-benefits, because while she enjoys the sex, she can't stand the idea of being tied down by having a full-time boyfriend. That's too bad, because I really, really like her and would love to be tied up, I mean tied down by her as my girlfriend... oh well... at least there's still sex. Tied up? Tied down? Which phase is funnier?

I let her in, grab a quick shower and then go out to talk to her.

She's apparently been up for hours. It's only 10AM! She doesn't state why she's been up for hours - Manic? Antsy? Horny? Dopey, Doc, Grumpy or Bashful? All I know is, this Cinderfella isn't getting his Sleeping Beauty rest.

I better stop. I'm getting Disney. I mean dizzy.

It's still raining. So we stay inside at my place.

We watch some videos from back home, make out a bit - it was weird... she was quite nice... with none of the bitchiness I hate and love at the same time. Hell, she was still very funny like she had been earlier this week - when I thought she was on her period... but now she admits she was clear last Wednesday... and was waiting for me to make my move like I was always forced to do.

Afterwards, she invites me back to her place to watch Black Rain and eat some more of her home-made soup. Guys... when a woman cooks food for you, she really loves you. That whole adage: "The way through a man's heart is through his stomach" - that's true. If you are eating take-out or ready-made meals all the time, or if you are like me and cooking for her, it's Loserville's one-way street. That was me this past year.

Now she is cooking food for me? It's soup. Does that count as a meal? Is that a meal if you are just a friend-with-benefits, or does she not know about that old saying?

I think too much, ne (eh)?

The gas in her apartment goes off suddenly, and no amount of kicking the stove will make it come back on, so I suggest she call her supervisor to call someone for help.

As she makes that call, I know my night is over early, and I ain't getting any. While Ashley has told anyone who will listen that she has never had a boyfriend, damn near everyone in Japan who has seen the two of us together (more often than often) would know that we were a couple. Hell, I told my bosses at the OBOE who asked if we were a couple, and they (I've heard from the OBOE) discussed the happy union with Ashley's bosses. When Ashley's bosses said "she keep's telling us she is single - why would she lie?" I told my bosses to inform them of the Japanese perception that a woman with a boyfriend must be sleeping around with him... and Ashley did not want to look like a slut.

I'm paraphrasing, of course. I don't believe I used the words "sleeping around".

As he makes his way over, I am making my way out.

I stay up until 2AM doing my jigsaw puzzle.

Crap. I have to get up early tomorrow to go dancing.

Somewhere not sleeping around,
Andrew Joseph
Today' blog title is by The Beatles because I like the IRONY.
PS: Of course, you know what FINE means, right? Read about the BREAKUP

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Picking Up The Pieces

Boo-hoo. I was feeling pretty down and sad about myself and my wonderful rife yesterday. Really... never drink and then blog. I mean... look what happened to that poor girl on Japan's woman's soccer team! HERE

It's Friday, September 13, 1991.

I am still teaching English as an assistant teacher on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme like I have been doing every day for nearly 14 months now.

I'm still not feeling much better about the job I am doing or effect I am having here at Kaneda Kita Chu Gakko (Kaneda North Junior High School), one of the seven junior high schools I visit in my hometown of Ohtawara-shi (Ohtawara City), Tochigi-ken (Tochigi Prefecture), Japan.

I'm from Toronto, Canada. I'm 26 years old, and not including nursery school or kindergarten, I was a student for 21 years... and have been a teacher for just over one. That's a lot of school for someone who actually hates school.

But I do like kids. I do like Japan and the people here and honestly until I arrived here I had absolutely no interest in ever learning anything about Japan. Truth. I applied to the JET Programme because a girl I liked was applying.

I was just trying to get laid for the first time.

I got into the Programme and she did not. Sex was part of the equation when I landed here. But, thank-you Japan and the JET Programme), because after 14 months, I have become quite adept at getting laid. If I am bored or horny or appear to be single, I have a woman come up to talk and the next thing you know...

But today's blog is not about sex. I just wanted to talk about it, because as down as I sometimes get about life, I have had a wonderful rife here. You can to. Just invite me with you to Japan and I'll get you laid.

Actually, besides looking for a free ticket to Japan, I'm bragging.

Today still sucks at Kaneda Kita Chu Gakko. It's raining again, and I feel like I am just merely going through the motions here. The students act like they don't want to learn, and they are bring me down.

After class, I sit at a monchrome computer. You would think that Japan - with all of it's technical skill and industrial might - would have the coolest, most modern computers on the planet. Every computer I saw was an orange or a green monochrome computer. No one had the Internet. Of course, it was 1991.

I was writing away on the Japanese stylized keyboard - having programmed it to write in my preferred Canadian alphabet, when two female students come over to chat with me.

For 10 blissful minutes, we chat in English and Japanese and are having a great time discussing what Canada is like.

Then I have to go home!

They are taking me home JUST as someone finally wants to talk to me at this infernal school?!

Why am I going home? It's so damn early? Gunji-san the school nurse takes me home at 3PM, arriving 30 minutes later. Thanks to an all important teacher's meeting, myself and these two lovely young ladies get screwed out of some key internationalization between Canada and Japan.

Man, am I depressed!

I go shopping for some food for my dinner and the mope around my large apartment (it really IS large!) doing my crossword puzzle.

Oh! The students did do pull a funny trick on me earlier at lunch: one kid stuck a long, thick piece of yarn in the back of my pants so that it looked like a tail. I walked around school like that for 40 minutes until a teacher pointed it out.

That's the type of disobedient behaviour I like. Good-natured fun!

At home, I vegetate and don't do anything until 2AM tomorrow. Neither Matthew or Ashley call or come over. Very strange, but I appreciate the free time to feel sorry for myself.

I stay up late doing a whole of nothing (too bored to masturbate even!) knowing that I can sleep in tomorrow. I don't even mind that I'm sleeping alone tonight.

Somewhere puzzling,
Andrew Joseph
Today's blog title is by Difford and Tilbrook: I'MINPRISON

A Knock On Social Media

I feel sorry for the poor Japanese player involved in the bruhaha about comments made and posed on Twitter.

Kumagai Saki (surname first) is a 20-year-old young lady who was part of Japan's World Cup winning soccer team. She apparently went to a party and said some things or showed off a topless photo of one of the other female players...and some dumbass guy posted it on Twitter.

You can read about that HERE.

I feel bad for Kumagai. I called her a nitwit in the blog's headline - and to be honest, she was. She says she didn't do a lot of what others say she did, and says other things were twisted or taken out of context.

Even if she did or didn't do these things - who cares? Is it really that big a deal? Japan finally has a some heroes they can cheer about. Winning the World Cup was a surprise for the nation, and a damn fine great piece of good news - especially after all of the negative press and just plain press after the triple disasters of earthquake, tsunami and close-call near nuclear meltdown since March 11, 2011.

Now... if the guy posting the tweets via Twitter was actually aghast at anything said or done at this university party, then sure... go ahead and post.

But if he was just blabbing stuff that someone who might have a too much to drink said and did - then that is just being malicious.

Personally, I don't think any cell phones, cameras or computer-like device should be allowed at any party where drinking is going on. I mean... that party wasn't an official party. It was just people getting together and having a great time.

People get drunk and say and do stupid things and regret them... but to have the whole world know - and heck, has anyone seen any proof that Kumagai really did all she was alleged to have done? In today's age of instant media gratification, people are innocent until tweeted.

Well, a little bird told me you can kill a lot of birds a stone in the hand. Why blab about crap like this on Twitter? If it was real news, why not call up a news agency and let them make it news? Bloggers like me, I did it to inform, but tried to do it fairly ( I was a real journalist for the Toronto Star newspaper a long time ago). Twits who Twitter about stuff to no one in particular... that's not cool.

Regardless of the brains or lack there of, of some people on Twitter - she's 20 year-old and one of Japan's newest heroes. If she did what they say she did, then she acted like an ass. Let her apologize and get on with being 20.

That's the problem with instant media gratification... there's no time to verify the facts before it is out in the ether. Bloggers do it, too, as does the mainstream media and politicians.

In the stories I have read about Kumagai's alleged misconduct, does anyone know what university the party was at or what the name of the 21-year-old man is? None of the stories I read provided that information.

That's basic Reporting 101, and it pissed me off that I could not provide that information in my blog. Then again, I'm not a mainstream news service like Kyodo or Reuters or The Japan Times.

For your information, the man's name is: Hashimoto Daiki and the university is Hosei University.

Here's a link to a page in Japanese with all of the tweets and some of the photos from the party. If anyone wants to translate for this blog, that would be cool... but I still didn't see any topless shots of female soccer players. PAGE. So... where's the proof?

Andrew Joseph

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Kamikaze Skull Found At Pearl Harbour

U.S. Navy photo of the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbour.

Okay... I'm just using the familiar term "kamikaze (divine wind - the name given to Japan's suicide pilots in the waning days of WWII between October 1944 - July 29 1945 when the last ship was sunk by a Kamikaze)" in the headline. It's not a kamikaze skull. 

However, an excavation crew dredging the harbour has found a skull that archeologists think might be from the Pear Harbour attack by Japan back on December 7, 1941 (when the U.S. joined WWII a full two years after it began), a date the Americans say will live in infamy.

Apparently it still does.

Archaeologist Jeff Fong of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Pacific (NAVFAC Pacific) says there are efforts now to try and identify the skull, with early analysis making him 75 per cent positive the skull belongs to a Japanese pilot. 

While he did not say what has led him to these beliefs, Fong stated that it was not from any of Hawaii's ancient burial sites.

The Naval Facilities Engineering Command Hawaii has also contacted local police and ruled out the possibility that it's from an active missing person case

The items found with the skull also provided clues: forks, scraps of metal and a Coca-Cola from the 1940s.

According to historical documents, it is known that 55 Japanese fliers were killed and 29 of their aircraft were shot down in the attack. The U.S. lost 2,400 service members that day in the surprise attack.

No confirmed Japanese remains have ever been found at Pearl Harbor since World War II. Hawaii was not a part of the United States at that time - it was a protectorate Territory and did not join until August 21, 1959 - but when Japan attacked the US Naval base there, it was considered an attack against the U.S.

The skull remains intact despite being dug up with giant cranes and shovels on April 1, 2011 after it and other items were dredged from the water and left to dry overnight. Upon discovering the skull, all work ceased immediately in case it was a crime scene.

"We definitely wanted it to be handled correctly," says Denise Emsley, public affairs officer for the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Hawaii. "That's why it's been kept quiet. We didn't want to excite people prematurely."

The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) on Oahu, Hawaii, charged with identifying Americans who were killed in action but were never brought home, was contacted to determine the identity of the male skull by examining dental records and DNA.

According to John Byrd, the lab's director and a forensic anthropologist: "We're working on the case but the case is just in the early stages of analysis. We're not going to know much more about it for a while yet."

The lab is the only accredited Skeletal Identification Laboratory in the U.S. JPAC has identified more than 560 Americans since it began operations in 2003.

It's rare to find remains in Hawaii, said Niitsu Kohei (surname first), an official at Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare in Tokyo. "The government usually sends a team to determine if the remains are indeed Japanese, and if this is confirmed, they are brought back to Japan."

NAVFAC Pacific issued a statement on July 20, 2011 noting it was early in the case to identify the remains.

"Until we receive the final report of the forensic analysis being conducted by scientists at (JPAC), we won't know with certainty whether the remains are a Japanese pilot or not," the statement said.

Daniel Martinez, the National Park Service's chief historian for Pearl Harbor, said experts on Pearl Harbor know enough about the specific location where Japanese planes went down in the attack that they might be able to match the skull with a crewmember.

"They landed in a variety places throughout Pearl Harbor and the island of Oahu," Martinez explains "In the area of Pearl Harbor, we know what plane was shot down and who was in the crew.

"I think that anytime you're able to reclaim a casualty and perhaps even identify it, regardless of what country, it may bring closure to a family."

Twitter Nitwit - Women's Soccer

#4 Kumagai Saki
Okay... so I thought I pulled a major boner after Japan's woman's soccer team won the 2011 World Cup in a surprise (for many) victory over a powerful and oft-times dominant USA team. You can read about my foul-up HERE.

But no... a member of Japan's team managed to out-do me - mostly because the Japanese take being dishonourable a lot more seriously than even I do - which is saying a lot, given my current circumstances.

Japan's Kumagai Saki (surname first) made a formal apology on July 22, 2011 for a tweeting about her rip-roaring good time with some university student two days earlier on July 20.

"I'm sorry about what has been brought on as a result of my careless actions," explains a contrite Kumagai, who scored the Cup-winning penalty shot in last Sunday's game.

Coach Sasakai Norio also offered an apology for Kumagai's comments that hit the airwaves through Twitter posts made by one of the students.

"It comes down to my lack of supervision," Sasaki notes. "I apologize to everyone who has been so supportive of Nadeshiko Japan."

Nadeshiko is the nickname of the Japanese women's soccer team--now ranked fourth in the world. 

Obviously NOT the racy photos of Maruyama Karina (l).
July 20, the 20-year-old Kumagai was celebrating with the university students when she (as reported by the Twitter tweets of a 21-year-old man) made several critical remarks about coach Sasaki and the Japan team. As well, the tweets accuse Kumagai of showing the students some racy photos taken on her mobile phone of teammate and forward Maruyama Karina topless. 

The next day on Twitter, Kumagai denied showing any photos around or that she criticized her coach.

"It is not true that I criticized the coach. But, undoubtedly, I was so inarticulate that my words were misunderstood," explains Kumagai, a defender with the Urawa Reds Ladies, who is now bound for the women's Bundesliga side Frankfurt.

"About the team situation, it was written in expressions which were far from the facts," Kumagai says. "I want to raise my awareness not only in the area of football but also in every aspect."

Despite her apology and attempt to clear her name, on July 21, 2011, the Japan Football Association (JFA) issued a stern warning to the Japanese team as Kumagai was removed from further scheduled television appearances.

The coach revealed that he had talked to Kumagai by denwa (telephone): "If we didn't pull off what we pulled off at the World Cup, maybe something like this would have never happened. We just have to behave knowing where we stand now.

"It is all due to my lack of supervision. I should have been more thorough in guiding my players. We have failed to adapt to changes in public attention on the Nadeshiko. Allow me to apologize to all the people who have supported the Nadeshiko."

Nadeshiko loosely translates into 'beautiful flower'.

JFA vice-president Daini Kuniya (surname first) says he had previously warned everyone on the team about team responsibility: "I gave instructions to tell everyone not to get carried away and watch out for their own behaviour."

Saki Kumagai 
Japan team #: 4
 Date of birth: 17/10/90
Height: 171 cm
Position: Defense
Home team: Urawa Lady Reds (JPN)

World Cup Performance:
Minutes played: 600
Goals: 0
Assists: 0
Yellow Cards: 1

 Scored deciding penalty kick in Finals.