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Monday, April 30, 2012

Riding The Ghost Train Of Ohtawara On Foot

I've been sitting on this topic for about 14 months now. Sitting and searching for as much information as possible.

There is information - just not a lot of it.

I even tried getting my good friend Matthew to ask his father-in-law living in Ohtawara for data, but there just wasn't much information forthcoming. I appreciate the effort, though.

I'm talking about the train service in Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken, Japan. The one that ran east-west. The one no one talks about or has much memory of. The one I rode upon on a road trip of discovery.

When I lived Ohtawara in 1990-1993 as a junior high school assistant English teacher on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme, there were three ways to get to my city of 50,000. You could drive via a highway, or you could take a train, or take a bus from a train station in a nearby town.

Via highway, you took the Nishinasuno-Shiobara interchange of the Tōhoku Expressway, as National Route 400 runs through the city.

I took it once when my bosses from the OBOE (Ohtawara Board of Education) office drove me to my home for the first time in August of 1990. I was sitting in the back of a white panel van with two of the office members and a tonne of luggage from Toronto. It was hot, wearing a three-piece suit and a tie, and there were no windows in the vehicle for me to look out of. I was uncomfortably stylish. Arriving in downtown Ohtawara, I had no idea of all of the beauty of the countryside that lay around me. It was over a year-later before I dared venture out on my own on a sight-seeing tour of my hometown (without the prospect of getting laid).

Aside from the highway, a visitor to Ohtawara could arrive at the Nishinasuno-machi (Town of Nishinasuno) train station and take a bus from there down southeast in to Ohtawara, or you could use the Nozaki-eki (Nozaki sation) train station actually situated in Ohtawara, but so far to the west that it just wasn't worth your while to use it if you lived in the downtown core, as I did.

I always used to think that that was it.

In the past, you could, walk, ride a horse or even ride a bicycle into Ohtawara... so lacking a horse and often too lazy to walk, I rode my bicycle around.

After the awe of the first year and being afraid of getting lost every time I left my home, I began to look around the rural city in my second year. Just getting comfortable in my surroundings, I guess.

I had noticed the Poppo dori trail - thanks to the exploration skills of Matthew and my ex-girlfriend Ashley - and would often ride along it at break neck speeds for no other reason than I enjoyed trying to not break my neck at excessive speeds.

The Poppo dori trail contained the remnants of a train station - and in fact the entire trail itself was completely refurbished in slate and tile, but maintained the illusion that a train line once ran here.

The Poppo dori trail running towards the viewer, with two paths.

One soggy day, I actually followed beyond where the Poppo dori trail ended - I had to walk, as my horse was in the shop - and discovered more of the train line path hidden from view as though it was a blot on the very face of Ohtawara's growth. 

This was the Toya Ohtawara train line. I have no idea when it started - perhaps the 1930s... perhaps earlier - but I do know that it closed in 1968.

Why? No clue. But I'd guess not enough customers and perhaps the building of the Tohoku Expressway to the west may have had something to do with it?

From what I can tell, the train line ran east/west following the Poppo dori bicycle path which consisted of two lanes - one for bikes and the other for walkers (and god help the bike rider, the dangerous dog walkers with chains stretched across our path).

There were two Ohtawara train stations: Ohtawara-eki (station) and Daikōmae-eki (station).

Daikomae-eki with the tiled  Poppo dori trail following the old Toya train line.
The image above is indeed a small covered waiting area of Daikōmae-eki, where riders could await the Toya passenger train. The ticket selling box is nowhere to be found. Neither are there any rails. Matthew and I would, on occasion ride our bikes through the covered area pictured above - though I never saw Ashley do it - too much of a lady.

The news is even worse for the Ohtawara-eki. All that remains of it is something called the Trial Supercenter, which sits where the station used to be. I don't even recall seeing this supercenter... hmmm... perhaps it is over to the east past Daikōmae-eki....
Until 1968, the old Ohtawara station used to sit where the tan building is now.
While on walk-about, I discovered that towards the east, the Toya train line went into a tunnel - now boarded up.

To get to it, I had followed this pathway (I guess I know what former train lines look like) though the backyards of the Ohtawara residents who must have been wondering just what the hell one of their local gaijin (foreigner) (Matthew was the other) was doing tramping around - but they saw me with my camera taking pictures so at the very least they had a gaijin sighting and no police were called.

Garbage strewn in a backyard beside the old Toya train track in Ohtawara-shi.
Every now and then, there would be a concentration of grey gravel rock - the ballast - on the ground where the train line had been, where one could use their imagination to see where the steel rails and wooden sleepers - railway ties - had been removed when the Toya train line shut down in 1968.

I kept walking for about a half-kilometer through the backyards of homes until I came to a boarded up round-mouthed tunnel. I was stymied.

The former train line in Ohtawara leads east to a tunnel.

The rounded train tunnel implies a small locomotive on the Toya line.

If you look at the rounded tunnel mouth in the photo above - and then compare it to the staircase on the right of the photo.... that's one small looking tunnel. To me it implies that this may have been akin to a toy train... not your standard large locomotive, but rather one used to riding the spur lines... this may have been a narrow gauge train system!

I walked back to where I had parked my bike and went home.

The next day, I set out again. I went to where I thought the train would have entered the tunnel, and then parked my bicycle in a different location and again started walking east - but not where the train tracks would have been... I was a bit further south than where I suspected the track had been.

I kept my eye on the small mountain where the train would have entered, and walked northeast determined to discover where it would have exited the tunnel.

I found that the train came out of the tunnel and crossed a wide span where a small river flowed north-south. With the aid of Matthew yesterday, I believe it to be the Sabi Gawa (Sabi River). 

The train's tunnel can be seen through the bare trees, with the edge of the concrete bridge standing over the Sabi river.

For some reason, I decided to climb down into the plain, and walked gingerly along the very muddy field. My running shoes quickly became sucked into the soggy goo, making further exploration up the east side of the plain an unlikely event.

The train track's bridge would have run left-right across this muddy field.

Still... while I stood in the middle of the plain (see the photo just above), I visualized a steam engine - probably something small like an 0-4-0 wheel base - crossing a rickety old bridge  - the base where the train exited the tunnel was cement, however, but it is possible that the bridge was either cement or wood - and pictured it heading in to its final destination to the east at what I now suspect was Ohtawara-eki.

I say suspect, because on the eastern bank of this span, after walking back alongside a road, I attempted to look for the train tracks despite my squishing running shoes, but there was no evidence of a train line at all.

I had reached the end of the line of my quest.

I have no information as to how many times a day this train may have run.

In fact, while I have evidence to suspect the Toya train ran farther west of Daikōmae-eki, I can not state for a fact if it actually went all the way west to the current JR (Japan Rail) train line station of Nozaki-eki.

I suspect that it did. I know that traveling along the bicycle path beside the main road from downtown Ohtawara towards Nozaki Chu Gakko (Nozaki Junior High School) at the farthest western edge of Ohtawara, the damn sidewalks were incredibly wide. Wide enough for a set of trail rails, in fact. That's just a guess, however. 

And, if it did go to Nozaki, did it continue farther west - perhaps to link up with Nikko-shi or even beyond?

I have no idea. Those that I talked to back in Ohtawara-shi back in the 1990s had no clue - and that was only a little over 20 years earlier. How soon we all forget, eh. Sorry, my Canadian was showing. 

If anyone has the means, and the desire to help me find out more information on the Toya train line, I would appreciate it.

In the mean time, aside from the top three photos taken from Wikipedia, the rest of the photos are my own from those two day trips around Ohtawara-shi, my dear, old hometown.

Andrew Joseph

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Man Forces Kids To Lure Customers To Bar

When did we time-trip back into the the early Victorian era?

In a scene reminiscent of a Dickensian novel, the sleazeball manager of a 'girl's bar' in Minami-shi, Osaka-ken, Japan was recently arrested for violating the Labor Standards Act.

It seems that Kinjiro Hara (surname first) was arrested after he forced a female sixth grade elementary student (best guess 11-years-old) to work for him at his bar where men come in are entertained by the beautiful women serving drinks et al.

Did sex occur there? Japan - It's a Wonderful Rife is not sure... but you have to wonder... if this place is sleazy enough to get an elementary school kid to work for him then what are the odds he's breaking the law in some other fashion.

Now... there is no charge of sexual exploitation. This young girl was an enticer. Someone who stands outside an establishment and entices male customers to come in. 

In fact, back in February of this year, Kenjiro-san was suspected (based on testimony from the young girl) of forcing the same kid, as well as a first-year junior high school student (grade 7 = 12 years-old) to act as enticers. Enticers is my term, by the way. There may be a more official underground term for this.

To Kenjira-san's credit he admitted his guilt, but further sullied himself by stating: "Young girls are both cheap and yield a profit."

Does Japan allow the horsewhipping of people like this? It should.

This was a TBS News story from April 28, 2012.

Files by Andrew Joseph

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Japan's Favorite AV Star - Erika Sato

Wow... that is one gorgeous woman.

Say konichiwa (hello) to Sato Erika (surname first), one of Japan's most beloved (if that word can be used here) adult video (AV) stars and adult model, ever.

There is not a lot of information out there on her, though she does posses a large body of work - none of which I will show you here, as this is not a porno site!

However, I present this to you because pornography is a part of Japanese culture - much like it is in all first-world nations - and then some - around the world.

The sex industry is large in Japan, just like it is in the U.S., Germany, Italy, Denmark - hell, pick a country! But, even me, well, I had never heard about this young woman until I got curious about what might be one of Japan's best known AV actresses - and yes, I hate to burst your bubble, but the women involved in the professional AV industry, well... they are acting.

Erika Sato (佐藤江梨花 - Sato Erika) is indeed a Japanese adult video pornstar, as well as an adult model.

She was born on June 8, 1986 in Chiba, Japan - yes, she is 25 years-old as of the time of this one-handed writing.

She is 1.70 meters tall (5'-7"), has brown eyes and brown hair, and her blood type is A.

Her measurements are a very sexy 89-57-85 (in centimeters), or a 35-22-33 (in inches). If you don't know what those numbers mean, you are too young to be reading this and should stop reading now. Or... if you are an adult and lack knowledge of the definition of those numbers... you know... I was going to say something snarky... instead, it means: bust-waist-hips.

Sato Erika is just your average Japanese girl-next-door. Not.

Erika apparently has a metric cup-size of F, and is very leggy with her gams reaching all the way down below her knees at a tasty 84 centimeters (33.07 inches) in length. Wow... how does she walk with legs so long that they touch the ground? Okay... I jest.

She is gorgeous, though.

Although she first started her career as an adult model, Erika got into the AV industry in December of 2005 (She was 19-years-old, in case you are trying to count backwards), and worked for five years until 2009, though she still models for cash.   

After she made her first AV movie entitled "Body To Body" (Dec. 2005), she moved to AV producers Peach-Boy Production where her movies got better distribution and promotion (though the scripts still sucked. I have never seen one of her movies, so that was just a guess) (I'm right, though!). This is when she became known as one of the top-selling AV girls in Japan. Also, her fame grew as she did tend to have a no holes barred attitude.
In fact, one of Erika's best selling movies was the bukkake-style AV entitled "The Ultimate Free Style Ejaculation" where she was a gooey recipient from a plethora of male AV actors some 77 times during the scene. It's not a record, but her work there cause AV sales to shoot up and over the competition.

And, by the way... who the hell comes up with these stupid AV titles?! I am a professional writer and horn dog (amateur)! Call me! I can help with the English next time!

I know, I know - you are wondering where are all of the pornographic photos and video are. Are you kidding me? On a casual search of the Internet lasting some six hours - I am nothing if not diligent - I was only able to find these three photos. Photos that are non-pornographic in nature, of course. Folks, the Internet is one dirty place. Did you know you can get pornography for free on it? Who knew?

Anyhow... Erika, as mentioned, is retired from the sperm bank business, and is hopefully safe and healthy and happy and rich.

Oh - and should you be wonderiung just why the heck I would bother telling you how long her legs are - well, Erika has stated officially, that her hobby is marathon running.

Legs... running...

Hmm... maybe she and I should get together. I once ran in the Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken, 10-kilometer marathon - though I had to pull out... ba-dum-bum!

Oh waitaminute! You don't think she meant...

Maybe... did no other website or blogger catch this?

Could she have meant... marathon sex?

Erika... call me... that I can still do.

By Andrew Joseph

Japan's Space Experiment Craft: ISS Kibo

I love space exploration.

Actually, if you were to see my home, you would know I hate space and prefer organized clutter filled with art (paintings, ukiyo-e and my photographs), book cases and books, LEGO dioramas, and dog and cat hair (not preferred, but it's there again immediately after vacuuming!).

But I have had an affinity for space and all it represents for mankind since I watched Apollo 11 land on the moon back in 1969.

I watched every Apollo mission after that, saw the Apollo-Soyuz mission (built a Revell model of it, too), watched Viking take off, saw the first space shuttle mission, watched in horror while watching Challenger explode after lift-off (I watched it live at a friend's dorm at York University), and years later watched Columbia burn up in re-entry.

I have spent hours watching with the unaided eye a satellite triangulate in the sky. I have watched meteor showers, so-called shooting stars, watched the launching of the Hubble Space Telescope (and cringed when it was discovered to initially be blurry!), dreamed of flying in space, daring to go where no man has gone before...

I have studied astronomy in university and can even calculate the height of mountains on the moon by studying the length of shadow of it in a photograph. As a 14-year-old watching 2001: Space Odyssey for the first time, I guessed that the monolith was actually a fuel cell to one day ignite the brown-dwarf star Jupiter turning it into a sun, making out solar system a more common binary star system, rather than the strangely rare single star system. The movie 2010, proved me correct.

And yet... I have never looked through a telescope in my life. Not even the stars will wait forever, I guess.

So... you can tell I really enjoy my space science, and have been completely bummed out that man has not flown to the moon or beyond since landing for the last time on the moon's surface with Apollo 17 back in 1972, and even more pissed off that NASA has been forced to retire the space shuttle missions without an actual replacement plan!

It's why I am glad to hear about such things as the International Space Station (ISS), and some of the cool stuff the JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) is doing.

The ISS - International Space Station

It's these two entities that give me hope. And... I want you to know that I wrote that last sentence before I knew what 'kibo' meant in English. Read on...

Today, let's look the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM), which is more affectionately known as Kibo (きぼう), which translates into 'Hope' in English.

Kibo is a Japanese science module for the International Space Station (ISS) that was developed by JAXA. It is the largest single ISS module and is situated in Earth's orbit.

Kibo was launched into space via three space shuttle missions, STS-123, STS-124and STS-127,  though it was operational after the first two launches of components.

Kibo consists of six components: the Pressurized Module (PM); Exposed Facility (EF); Experiment Logistics Module-Pressurized Section (ELM-PS); Experiment Logistics Module-Exposed Section (ELM-ES); Japanese Experiment Module Remote Manipulator System (JEMRMS), and; the Inter-orbit Communication System (ICS).

The Pressurized Module (PM) is cylindrical in shape, and is where experiments utilizing the microgravity environment will be conducted. Of the 23 international Standard Payload Racks, 10 are racks are for science experiment. The Exposed Facility, Experiment Logistics Module and the Remote manipulator are all connected to the PM.

Affectionately known as the Terrace, the Exposed Facility (EF) is located outside the ISS, outside of the port cone of the PM, and is accessible through the PM airlock. Exposed to outer space at all times, the EF and the truss facilities, are the only locations where the space environment can directly be utilized by the crew. The EF houses experiments that need to be exposed to outer space. 

The Experiment Logistics Module (ELM) consists of two sections:
  • The Japanese Experiment Logistics Module, Pressurized Section (ELM-PS) –- also called the JLP –- is a pressurized addition to the PM. The module is a storage facility that provides storage space for experiment payloads, samples and spare items;
  • The unpressurized (external) section (ELM-ES) will serve the EF. It is intended as a storage and transportation module.
The Japanese Experiment Module Remote Manipulator System (JEMRMS) is a robotic arm to support experiments conducted on the Exposed Facility. The main arm handles large items, while a smaller arm (the 'Small Fine Arm') can be attached to the main arm for more delicate work. The main arm is equipped with a TV camera allowing astronauts to monitor the operation from inside the pressurized module.


Pressurized Module
Length: 11.19 m (36.7 ft)
Diameter: 4.39 m (14.4 ft)
Mass: 14,800 kg (32,600 lb) 

Experiment Logistics Module
Length: 4.21 m (13.8 ft)
Diameter: 4.39 m (14.4 ft)
Mass: 8,386 kg (18,488 lb)

Anyhow... Kibo is doing experiments up in space. I know, many of my good friends think it is a waste of taxpayers money, and I really can't say I blame them... but as I said... it gives me hope for the future.

Some of the planned experiments for Kibo include:
 - MAXI X-ray astronomy from 0.5 to 30 keV.
 - SMILES observes and monitors very weak sub-millimeter wave emission lines of trace gas molecules in the stratosphere.
 - SEDA-AP (Space Environment Data Acquisition equipment-Attached Payload) measures neutrons, plasma, heavy ions, and high-energy light particles in ISS orbit. 
 - HREP (Hyperspectral Imager for the Coastal Ocean (HICO) & Remote Atmospheric & Ionospheric Detection System (RAIDS) Experimental Payload)

Here's what JAXA has to say about Kibo:
 JAXA (has contacted) universities and other academic institutions to offer experiment themes for utilizing the Kibo, and conducts collaborative research with private companies. We also began a system of Kibo usage through which the private sector can use the Kibo with some fees.
We hope that space experiments and application will become more familiar to our lives through the Kibo.

What does this mean for us here on Earth? I have no bloody idea. And yet, I blindly hope it means something - something substantial that will help make a difference for us all. Really.

But... I really like that we continue to be curious about space. We are a part of it... why should we not know more about it? It has always helped me rediscover hope whenever I hear about a new mission.

Files compiled by Andrew Joseph

Friday, April 27, 2012

Japan Women Play Canada in 1st Match of Olympics

Call it kismet.

Regular readers know that I am a proud Canadian who lived in Japan for three years.

I also enjoyed playing soccer. I also coached it for about seven years with my buddy Rob Jones.

We coached women's soccer.

Oh... and did I mention that I was born in London, England?

So... how appropriate is it that Canadian Women's soccer team plays the Japanese women's soccer team to open up the London 2012 Olympics this year?

Very, I dare say.

On July 25, 2012, those two teams will play each other at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena, two days before the actual opening ceremonies. Make no mistake... this is the first game of the Olympic soccer tournament, and the very first event of the Olympics.

Ookay, perhaps I am getting ahead of myself. The actual first game will be between Great Britain and New Zealand at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.

They are starting early to ensure all the games will fit into the schedule.

Canada is no slouch in soccer - at least when it comes to women's soccer. Rob and I will gladly attest that women soccer players are tough. Tougher than the men, I think. They may not have the same speed or skill as their male counterparts (a free observation for which you may all tell me I am full of it), but I firmly believe they more than make-up for those short-coming with more heart, desire and verve, and dare I say it - more passion.

Sorry... this blog actually celebrates women's soccer.

According to FIFA rankings, Canada is #7, Japan #3 - and they are grouped together in what can only be a group of death with the 5th ranked Swedes and the 65th ranked South Africans.  

Fans of soccer should keep an eye on this bracket.
“There is a bit of clarity now and that is exciting,” says Canadian coach John Herdman. “We can now start to focus on the technical blueprints and draw the route back from the gold-medal game.”

There are 12 teams in total for the women, in this year's Olympic tourney, encompassing 216 talented female players.  

In the other two groups, reigning Olympic champion (2008) United States was drawn with France, Colombia and North Korea in Group G.

While the 2012 host team of Great Britain was drawn in Group E to face New Zealand as well as Cameroon and Brazil.

The top two teams from each group plus two of the three third-place teams advance to the quarter-final phase.

The quarter-finals are scheduled for August 3, the semi-finals are August 6, and the medal games August 9, 2012.

I believe that the women's tournament will take place in six fields in Wales, Scotland and England. No Ireland, unfortunately in such venues as: City of Coventry Stadium, (Coventry); Hampden Park (Glasgow, Scotland); Millennium Stadium (Cardiff, Wales); Old Trafford (Manchester, England); St James' Park (Newcastle, England); Wembley Stadium (London, England).

Japan - It's A Wonderful Rife will keep you up to date on the scores with write-ups on some of the games.

Andrew Joseph

Everyone Dies At Japanese Baseball Game - The Horror!

Here's an amusing little something my pal Tristan found for me earlier today. Go ahead... watch it first and then come back here if you are still alive.

On April 25, 2012 at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo (d'uh) Japan, the ceremonial first pitch was thrown by someone who ended up killing everyone in the stadium.

Dead. All 40,000 of them. Ballplayers from both teams, too. The umpires survived because they were blind and were thus prevented from the horror.

Wondering just what the hell is going on? I don't. I've seen it before. In the last century!

That wild-haired relative of Cousin Itt is the creepshow known as Sadako.

Maybe you recognize her when she crawled out of a television screen and then drowned her victim.

She is the horror from the horror movie, The Ring (made in the US in 2002) or the original Ringu (Japanese movie made in 1998). She is supposed to be a yūrei, a type of Japanese ghost. The concept has also been used in the scary Japanese horror flicks Ju-on (the US remake The Grudge), One Missed Call, and Dark Water.

Great freaking horror movie (Ringu) and you should watch it if you want a good scare... but what the fug?

This opening pitch was played for laughs (few in the audience at the Dome were laughing, however), what with her flopping like she was dead and wearing cleats...

What the hell does this have to do with baseball or a charity or something of historical importance - which is pretty much the only way you get to toss out a pitch in the MLB (Major League Baseball).

If they tried to pull that stunt here in North America, we would boo them right off the field. Besides... the movie is from 14 years ago! How is this relevant to 2012? Is it coming out on a new director's cut and slash DVD set?

I don't know, and I don't care.

Funny stuff, yes... and it makes me want to watch the movie again... but this is baseball. It makes me want to cry, but there is no crying in baseball.

Personally, I think the PR people who thought this stunt up went to the well once too often.

By the way, I think she threw an ectoplasm ball, aka a curve.

Andrew Joseph

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Battle Royale - A Comic Book For Kids?

Once again, someone has asked a question - and once again, Japan - It's A Wonderful Rife is coming to the rescue.

Someone asked if their 12-year-old should read the comic book version of Battle Royale... a manga version of the disturbing Japanese book and movie published by Tokyo Pop - a respectable comic book company I have enjoyed.

The very fact that you are wondering about it tells me to answer 'No'.

If you know what the plot is about - and if not, read my summary HERE - then you already know that this is a violent piece of fiction.

Just because it's a comic book, does not mean it's for kids. In fact, if one were to examine the comic book industry as a whole, you would realize that comic books are really not for kids anymore. It is created for the male between the ages of 18-34.

Sometime during the 1980s, when DC created the Dark Knight 4-issue Prestige mini-series, comic books and super-heroes became dark. Comic book companies and writers everywhere soon tried to out-do each other,  as the anti-hero became popular.

Heck, in the mid-1970s when Giant-Size X-Men #1 came out for Marvel comics, Wolverine was now part of the group. Granted he appeared earlier as a throw-away character in Hulk #181, but now he was part of what would soon become THE comic book phenomenon of the late 1970s and 1980s. Here's a character who while having cool mutant healing powers, tracking skills out the ying-yang and blades that essentially pop through his skin made of one of the hardest substances known to Marvel Comic's readers. I'm unsure if Adamantium (the metal his skeleton is made from or Vibranium (what Captain America's shield is made from and pretty much only found in the homeland of the Black Panther) is stronger. Adamantium, I think.

Back to the point (I am a comic book nerd, after all), comic books as a whole are not for kids. Again, back in the 1960s, DC turned Batman into the Dark Knight detective with stunning art from Neal Adams and words by Denny O'Neil, and those two got to gether again in the early 70s to make Green Lantern and Green Arrow go through all sorts of moral dilemmas.

Bane broke Batman's back. Superman died. Joker shot the woman who was Batgirl putting her in a wheelchair. Joker killed the second Robin - though he did come back from the 'dead' as Hush. Swamp Thing born in a fire. Batman born when his parents are gunned down in Crime Alley. Robin after his parents die in a trapeze act accident that was actually a murder. 

Whoever knows fear burns at the touch of the Man-Thing. Iron Man - alcoholic. Spider-man born when a robber shots and kills his uncle Ben.

Comic books are violent - but kids read them and most of us turned out normal.

Battle Royale, as a concept is violent. The movie is violent. The comic book is sure to be violent.

Tell you what though... you have to know your kid. Is he susceptible to other people's ideas - I mean, is he a follower or a leader? Is he/she sensitive to violence or not.

We survived watching Bugs blow up Daffy et al. We know that in real life that's dangerous.

Does your kid know reality from fantasy. When I was 12, I did. I did when I was 8, even 6. I was old for my age.

If you want to be fair, buy the comic book. Read it yourself. If you find anything in it that disturbs you, you have your real answer.

And, for the record... this manga/comic book is not hiding anything. In fact, it shows more gore than the movie leaving little to the imagination. 

Good luck.

I only hope I remember this when my six-year-old wants something questionable.

Andrew Joseph

No Sex Please - We Are Young Japanese Men

If you are a young man, middle-aged man, old man, single, married or both - and not Japanese, you might want to take a trip to Japan soon.

While Japan is known for its fetishes, porn, liberal views on sex - despite the western image of Japan as being a bunch of straight, suit-wearing men with black-framed glasses and no sense of humor - there is, according to a recent study a disturbing trend going on n the country. Well, perhaps it's more disturbing for the heterosexual Japanese women.

Studies (plural) seem to dictate that young Japanese men don't really want to date or have sex.

Have the youth of today had their ego destroyed by one gaijin's sexual romps through their country 20 years ago? Uh... that would be me.

Is it because they have grown up without a father? Could I be their father?

No. Nothing could be father, I mean farther from the truth, though I suppose it could be possible I have about 20 kids somewhere, in which case I think I need a legal battle with the Trojan folks. 

Excuse me... but I have to sit down. Young Japanese men aren't interested in dating or sex?! What is wrong with you Japan? Did I teach you nothing in three years?! You can have your cake and eat it too... and then screw the cake.   

The survey was conducted in June 2010 by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, a research group related to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, was based on answers from roughly 7,000 single men and women, mostly aged 18 to 34. The Tokyo-based think tank conducts the survey every five years.

The survey found that 61 per cent of unmarried adult men surveyed said they do not have girlfriends.

As well, the proportion of unattached men jumped 9.2 percentage points since the last survey in 2005, with 45 per cent of the no-girlfriend guys said they are not particularly interested in finding one.

So... what's the story? Why don't young Japanese men want to date women and screw their brains out?  

Some have said they just want to hang around and play video games.

Okay... I've played a lot of video games. I started with Space Invaders et al, knew how to do the old quarter on a string trick for free credits, had: a Pong; an Odyssey, Atari 400 and Atari 1200XE computer, Sega, Sega Genesis, Sega Game Gear, Nintendo Famicon and Nintendo Super Famicon, Nintendo 64, Ninetendo Gameboy, Nintendo Gameboy Advance, Sony PS2, Sony PS3... and there's probably a few others I've left out accidentally. I've even played video games on the computer - text games like Zork and HitchHikers Guide To The Galaxy, Leisure Suit Larry In the Land of the Lounge Lizards, - the whole Ultima series... some on a floppy disk... they real floppy ones!    

But let me tell you... back then... if there was a chance I was going to get laid I would have said sayonara to the video games.

Hell, even now... I have a PS3... I'd rather get laid by some little red-haired devil-woman than play Halo. Get my rocks off rather than play Guitar Hero. Your gaming skills don't impress me as much as your ass.  Is that not the way to think?

It doesn't matter if you think you are good at video games (the first time I solved the computer puzzle game Myst, I did it in seven hours - whoo-hoo! Where's my prize? I'd rather see a woo-hoo!) - we're talking about sex! Young Japanese men! Stop playing with your joystick and let a woman hit your reset button + triangle + circle +L2. You know what I mean.

The study complains that Japan's population could go down by some 30 per cent over the next 10-30 years. That's because there is less going down. Less dating = less sex = less babies.

Of course... this whole study implies that dating + sex = babies. Really? This is Japan, after all. Dating + sex + marriage + sex = babies.

Are married Japanese men coming home from a hard day of working for a salary and then plopping down in front of the TV to play Sonic the Hedgehog? Really? Who the hell was asked in these surveys?

Now... there may be something to the survey if it is indeed true that young Japanese men don't even want to date a woman because they are apathetic about dating and sex.  

One college student says, "It's not that guys don't like women. But it's just easier and more fun to hang out with other guys."

True. But I suppose it depends on how you define easy and fun. An easy woman is indeed fun - not that I would know anything about that, of course.

Another says, "If you want a date, you have to ask the guy out yourself."

I suppose we should all assume that the second speaker (Another says) is a man talking about what women should do. If not, and it's about a man talking about men, then we have another solution as to why men don't want to date women.

I would take this study with a grain of saltpeter (saltpeter was used to make sure you didn't get a hard-on). Sometimes a survey sampled can have results skewed one way, which isn't really representative of the majority of people.

The survey was conducted in June 2010 by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, a research group related to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, was based on answers from roughly 7,000 single men and women, mostly aged 18 to 34. The Tokyo-based think tank conducts the survey every five years.

June 2010? That was before my life turned upside down. That was before Japan was devastated by the big Tohoku earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear problems. That was before loss of income, jobs, abandon hope all ye who enter here.

Cripes! Things could actually be worse now in 2012!

The most recent 2010 survey found that 61 per cent of unmarried adult men surveyed said they do not have girlfriends.

As well, the proportion of unattached men jumped 9.2 percentage points since the last survey in 2005, with 45 per cent of the no-girlfriend guys said they are not particularly interested in finding one.
Let's schtupp! Now!

Now... 7,000 single men AND women is a fair-sized poll (sp)... not that Japanese women would know about that, so at least the pollsters tried... but how many were men? And how many men are there in Japan within that range?

It is possible (though unlikely, to be fair), that pollsters just got lucky (or unlucky as the case seems to be) in questioning all of the men in Japan that don't want sex.  

I think if you asked those men to look at the photo of the sexy Japanese woman just above, I think they would want to 'date' her two or three times a night.

Buried in the survey results, both single men and women are now actually more picky, and will wait longer to find the right partner.

While that is great, I suppose, but it still doesn't explain the high number of respondents who say they don't want to date or get laid. Does that imply that more people are interested in saving themselves for marriage? Oh... won't that be a disappointment when you realize your new husband or wife does not share you same sexual wants or desires! On the plus side, you won't have a reference point  for what lousy or great sex is like.   

Almost half of women surveyed are unmarried and unattached – and similarly to the men, about 45 per cent are content with staying that way for now. Still, also mirroring the men, the biggest surge in women without a partner is logged among those 20 to 24 years old.
This whole 20-24 year old single thing is good. Get married when you are ready, not because you must by a certain age.

My own parents were married (by their own choice) at the age of 24. I felt like a loser when 24 came and went and I wasn't married, couldn't find a girlfriend, and had never even been laid! Not for lack of trying either. Maybe that was because I was chasing the blonde super model with big tits. Whatever... I had not yet matured by that age. It doesn't matter what color the hair is - you can always get some hair color. What matters is that they are super models with big tits.

Maybe the Japanese are feeling that way, as well?  That they will get married when they are ready - not when their parents or society dictates they should get married.

Japan is not a Carrousel tour of Logan's Run. Time does not run out when you hit 30!

Too much masturbation can create nasty sores that will kill you.

I'm not concerned about that.

I am concerned about them not even wanting to have sex, and even more so about not wanting to date! How the hell are you going to have fun and experience proper social interaction if you never even date? How can you have any pudding if you won't eat your meat?

Of those surveyed, the average age that they want to get married by is 30.4-years-old for men and 28.4 for women.

Some number crunching for you: men and women aged 18 to 24 like being single because they feel they are too young to get married. Well, d'uh. You probably are.

As for WHY men and women of all ages (except the 18-24 group), the reason chosen increased for every group, stating that it was not easy to find that perfect match.

No effin' kidding.

By Andrew Joseph

Cleavage Bar Opens In Tokyo

If you are a single or horny man, you have to love Tokyo, Japan.

Always at the forefront of the sexual exploitation industry - in this case, finding new ways to exploit men from their yen for their yen of sexy women - Tokyo has opened up its fist cleavage cafe where beautiful women walk around in miniskirts and low-cut tops and serve customers in a bar.

What's the kick? They will offer you a shoe shine so you can stare down their tops. No sex, but it there is sexy.

File this under "My C-Cup Runneth Over" and check out the full uplifting story from The Tokyo Reporter HERE.

This could be a good thing, as I find that my shoes get very, very dirty - I could use a spit-shine.

Andrew Joseph

100 Poems By 100 Poets - Ukiyo-e

Yes... the Internet can be a great place to get good solid information as well as be steered completely off in the wrong direction with falsehoods.

Well, I have come not to bury the Internet, but to praise it. Mostly.

I have 21 ukiyo-e, Japanese woodblock prints. Most of mine were actually printed some 150 years ago, and purchased through antique art shoppes in Japan, when I lived there between 1990-1993.

You can tell the art dealers are authentic by the quaint way they spell 'shoppe'.

Okay... that's bad Internet information right there.

Anyhow, despite once having some information on all of my art pieces, the data I was given has become mixed up with each other or lost. Also, I was relying on the English language techniques of a Japanese art dealer or two, who may either have been mistaken about a print they were selling (reading the scrawls on an ukiyo-e is an art-form in itself), or they simply made a mistake in creating data for me - perhaps a mis-translation here and there.   

For example, the art piece up above was apparently from an ukiyo-e series called 100 Songs. While I am now no longer sure that is even an ukiyo-e series, the art piece above is certainly not a part of it.

It is a part of the Hyakunin Isshu emyo( 百人一首) which is a traditional Japanese anthology style of compiling Japanese waka poetry where each contributor writes one poem for the anthology. This one, in English is called is One Hundred Poems By One Hundred Poets.

There are many variations of this ukiyo-e anthology created by many other ukiyo-e artists, as it is a particularly popular theme.

I, of course, had no idea of any of this when I bought the piece... as I was rather curious about the fact the image showed a bare boob. Was this pornography?

No. Not in 2012, 1990 or 1844 when this particular print was first published.

So... here's the particulars about this ukiyo-e.

Drawn by Utagawa Kunisada (1786 - 1865), and signed Kunisada aratame Nidia Toyokuni ga, this is print No. 18 of the Hyakunin Isshu emyo. Kunisada is also known as Toyokuni III. And, the hobby of collecting ukiyo-e gets even more complex for Andrew.

Size-wise, this is considered to be Oban, but my print is exactly: 14-11/16 tall  x 9-3/4 inches wide, and is about four millimeters longer than the other standard oban pieces I have - and thus will not fit into my art collection folder.

The poet is Fujiwara no Toshiyuki ason, the publisher is Kika Kudoh (Sanoya Kihei), and the censor is Fukatsu Ihei (1844).

What is a censor? A censor is a judge or gyôji who were responsible for ensuring a publisher (and thus the artist) followed the rules and restrictions about what could be published in books. How draconian.

While I am still unable to do this, the date of a print can often be determined from the censor seals on it. Actually, this holds true for the prints that were sold publicly - these were the art pieces that had to pass the censors.

The private, limited edition prints such as surimono (art pieces with calendars on them or poems designed for poetry clubs , as well as outlaw prints such as shunga, were evidently condoned - or overlooked - if issued discreetly. More on shunga (erotic ukiyo-e prints) to come shortly in a future blog.

From 1790 until 1876 (which roughly parallels the last half of the best of ukiyo-e, and the period from which prints are most commonly found today), when formal censorship ceased, all woodblock prints had to be examined by official censors, and marked with their seals.

The changing forms of these seals, as they government changed the censorship process, and the seals applied as part of that, allows the dating of prints to a varying degree of accuracy. The general form of the seals almost always gives a rough idea of when the print was produced. During some periods, the details of the censor seals allows dating a print to within a month. But, of course, for dumb gaijin (foreigner) collectors like myself who 'only like pretty picture' and can not read Japanese, we have to resort to help from the Internet. Which is what this whole blog is about.

Let's go back to the ukiyo-e presented above. From what I have learned, the cool looking medium blue in the print is something called azuri-e blue (Berlin blue) and as of the 1830s was a relatively new color printed in ukiyo-e.

As for the poet, Fujiwara no Toshiyuki ason, we are not sure when he was born - perhaps 880AD - and either died in 901 or 907 AD. He was a middle-Hein waka poet and a Japanese nobleman. He was also a member of the Thirty-six Poetry Immortals  - the best of the best of the poets from this early history of Japan.

Toshiyuki was an officer of the Imperial Guard, and a member of the great and influential Fujiwara family who rose into power in the reign of the Emperor Tenchi, and became almost hereditary ministers-of-state. 

For a long period the Emperors chose their wives from this Fujiwara family only, and to this day a large number of the Japanese nobility are sprung from the same stock.

Cool! I have two poems (and ukiyo-e) written by two of the 36 greatest poets of this era. You can learn a bit more about ukiyo-e and other interesting historical facts HERE.

The poem as it is written on the ukiyo-e:

The poem in Japanese:
Sumi no e no
Kishi ni yoru nami
Yoru sa e ya 
Yume no koyoi ji
Hito me yoku ran.

English translation:
The waves are gathered
On the shore of Sumi Bay,
And in the gathered night,
When in dreams I go to you,
I hide from people's eyes.

Beautiful poem. But what has this to do with the image of the mother showing her breast to the hungry, crawling baby - I have absolutely no idea.

It makes me wonder if I have found the correct poem for it! I hope so! I found it at the Virginia educational website: But, why does this poem not come close to being representative of the image on the ukiyo-e?

Hey! If anyone out there can actually read the poem, or confirm the image number of 18, I would be highly appreciative.

Andrew Joseph

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Ogura Imitations Of The Hundred Poets - Ukiyo-e

You know... it's been quite rare for me to find a pretty good bit of information about the ukiyo-e I own. Often I just have the name of the artist and an approximate date and that's it.

Part of the problem is that since I bought these pieces of art 20 years ago, I have moved seven times. As such, some of that information has either gone missing, or has been misplaced - and by that, I don't mean lost... I mean misplaced... with data sitting with the wrong piece of art.

In the image above, I have been able to, over the past four days or so, paste together a whole lot of information on the art piece.

I have been going over scores of websites looking for art that resembles my small collection of 21-pieces of ukiyo-e, and then have tried to confirm things by comparing artist signatures... it's been exhausting... and sometimes it leaves me to wonder if I am the only person in the world to own some of these pieces.

Of course, that's just ego. More than likely I can't find my art in the catalogs because it either hasn't gone up for sale or auction, or the private collectors haven't seen fit to place images on the Internet, or, as I have discovered... art that is contained within an art dealer's website doesn't necessarily show up in Google Image searches. You kind of have to find an art dealer and then search their historical collections one by one. 

It's time consuming.

Having said that, I have had success on two pieces of ukiyo-e art - two pieces I wasn't originally searching for at that time. Better lucky than smart, I suppose.

The ukiyo-e image above is from the famous series: Ogura nazorae Hyakunin isshu (Ogura imitations of the Hundred Poets), and was drawn by famed ukiyo-e artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797 - 1861), but signed as Ichiyusai Kuniyoshi ga.

It was published by Ibaya Senzaburoh, with a censor seal by Muramatsu in a best guess date of 1845, depending on what revered source I choose to follow (It could also be anywhere between 1845-48). The censor seal gives us a better clue on the actual publication date. (More on the censor in my blog tomorrow).

Prepared in the Oban style, the piece is 36.3 x 24.5 centimeters (height x width) or 14-5/16 x 9-5/8 inches.

This ukiyo-e is image number 4 of the lengthy series, and in the upper left quadrant, it contains a waka, a five-lined poem (with 31 syllables, broken down in in a 5-7-5-7-7) . The poem was written by the famed Japanese poet Yamabe no Akahito who lived during the Nara period born in 700 AD, and dying in 736AD. He is one of the thirty-six Poetry Immortals (三十六歌仙, Sanjūrokkasen) who are a group of Japanese poets of the Nara, Asuka and Heian periods selected by Fujiwara no Kintō as the best Japanese poets of the era.

The poem as it is written on the ukiyo-e:

The poem in Japanese:
Taga no Ura ni
Uchi idete mireba
Shirotae no
Fuji no takane ni
Yuki wa furi tsutsu

English translation:
When I take the path
To Tago's coast, I see
Perfect whiteness laid
On Mount Fuji's lofty peak
By the drift of falling snow

In the image, we see two ladies at Yushima Shrine receiving a gift box containing snow. A young girl holds a New Year's decoration above a married woman's head. 

It's so much more interesting to me now that I have background on the image.

I had bought it because I liked the two styles of kimono, and I always figured the women were doing something with rice. And now I know.

Andrew Joseph

No Nuclear Power Is A Gas, Gas Gas For Japan

Ever since the March 11, 2011 earthquake caused a shift in the power generating focus of Japan - what with the whole near thermonuclear meltdowns, discovery of facilities not up to snuff, which means they could snuff out life - the whole country has been doing quite well without all that juicy, electrical power it was generating for them.

People have been reducing their electrical power dependence, a bit, which helps... but what exactly is it helping?

Currently with 54 of 55 nuclear reactors out of action for repairs and trying to resolve a plethora of various safety issues, electrical power generation must come from some other form.

In Japan, that is being filled by LNG - liquified natural gas, as 10 regional power providers have said they burned a record high 52,900,000 metric tonnes of the gas in the fiscal year ending March 27, 2012.

This is up by 27 per cent from the year previous, according to the Federation of Electric Power Companies. The previous record was when 41,900,000 metric tonnes of LNG was consumed in the fiscal year ending 2008..

Other consumption data released by the federation includes:
  • petroleum, including crude and fuel oil: 23,300,000 kiloliters (more than doubled the last fiscal year's consumption). Petroleum use was the highest it has been in the past 10 yaesr, while crude and fuel back during the dark days of the first fuel shortage was only 57,700,000 kiloliters, ending March 1974;
  • thermal-power generation rose 26 per cent from a year earlier. Japan - It's A Wonderful Rife feels this might be the best way for Japan to gain its power in the near future;
  • the average operating rate of nuclear plants in the latest fiscal year was 24 percent, down from the 67 percent of a year earlier, according to the Federation of Electric Power Companies;
  • The atomic power generation for electricity was Japan's lowest since the country first began to utilize it in 1968. 
  • As of March 2012, there has only been one nuclear reactor working since the Fukushima disaster of 2011 - that's a 1.9 per cent of the total number of reactors in Japan.
So, while Japan's nuclear crisis causing it to either dislike or fear nuclear power generation, other forms of electrical power generation have been required. While it is a boon for these other industries which are salivating at the collapse of the Japanese nuclear energy sector, it should be tempered.

First, are these alternate energy sources big enough to handle Japanese demand for energy? So far - yes... but that is only because Japan has been rationing itself.

Will that trend continue or will Japan be what Japan will be - an energy consuming country like any first-world country? I'm guessing at the later.

What will that mean? Well... it's all about supply and demand. Japan's current supply of energy will soon be outstripped by its demand, and to compensate (?) prices of all forms of energy will go up. Will there be enough energy for the Japanese? Yes. It's strange how raising the price of an energy source suddenly makes the shortages disappear.

It's like, hey consumer, thanks for the extra cash you've been giving us for our inflated prices. Thanks to your efforts, we have discovered a whole new patch of dinosaur goo, and so while we can't lower our profits, er, prices, we will at least be able to provide fuel for you. Thanks for being a contestant on The Price Is Right Over Your Head.

Japan, like most Asian countries, does have one advantage... it rides bicycles a lot for transportation. That's cool! But, a bicycle won't heat your house or power up your PlayStation 3 (unless you really hook it up to make sure it provides power like a hamster running in its hamster wheel to a generator).

Japan can save a lot of money by turning off its lights at night. In Tokyo, you can walk around the city and glance at neon from all of the signage. Flashing billboards, big screens. Large things which are important to businesses, but not when their very existence also caused a drain on the country's energy resources. Yes, those companies are paying for their electrical usage, but the power is still coming from a power generation facility - whether its gas, nuclear or whatever.

Of course... that's not the big problem. Japan will continue to pay large sums of money simply because it has few options when it comes to power generation. Wood? Coal? Nope. Gas and oil? What reserves? Wind? We'll need more politicians. But windmills? Perhaps. Waterfalls? Precious few, and those that are there are beautiful? Wave generation? Is the technology there to make what the country needs? Nope. Solar? Maybe. Geo-thermal? Well... the country does sit on the volcanic ring of fire... but right now the supplies are not huge.

Hey! What about nuclear? I've heard that if done correctly, nuclear power generation can be a safe form of power.

You have a better idea? For the short-run?

By Andrew Joseph

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Japan Broke But Can Buy A Fix

Here's an interesting piece I found today, April 24, 2012 on

In the article, the author Eamonn Fingleton, a contributing writer to Forbes, wonders aloud how it is that Japan is able to help bail out Europe, yet there is still the assumption that it is broker than a kid's toy two days after Christmas. (The grammar is on purpose.)

You can read that article here:

As well, according to a Reuters article from April 22, 2012, it was announced that Japan is forgiving the debt and overdue charges that Myanmar (or Burma, as U.K. news feeds continue to call it) had accumulated... to the tune of $3,720,000,000 (¥303.5 billion). 

You can read about the nice reasons for that here: 

So... is there a reason why Japan is being so nice to the world? Did it find a secret cache of Hitler's gold somewhere? Where is this money coming from? Is it printing it up willy-nilly secretly creating a hyper-inflation like in post WWI Germany where it was cheaper to wipe one's bum with a 1-million mark bill than to purchase a roll of toilet paper, or ALSO quite literally cheaper to burn money than buy fuel?    
 Why is Japan spending money on everyone but itself? I used to do that, and all it gets you is further in debt and a plethora of fair-weather friends and family with their hand out expectingly every time they see you. It sucks. You can buy a stairway to heaven, but it's a long way to climb!

Is Japan as broke as the media keeps saying it is? Does it have hidden money we know nothing about? Is it printing money and hoping things don't get out of hand? Is it making nice with everyone in case it needs a huge bailout soon?

A penny for your thoughts, Japan. I'd give you more, but I'm in debt.

By Andrew Joseph


Back to my personal diary of Thursday, December 19, 1991...The first two parts of my day are here:
Part 1
Part 2

Just let the video above play while you read...

I've been living in Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken, Japan since late August of 1990, arriving here to work as a junior high school English teacher for the JET (Japan  Exchange & Teaching) Programme.

The teaching part has been easy. I'm a journalist by trade, graduating from university with a degree in Political Science and from college in journalism.

I've coached women's soccer for about seven years, and taught piano for two... I have an ego and I don't have an ego. It just depends on the form of introspection I am performing. I'm a high IQ slacker who until arriving in Japan had never lived on his own, had a girlfriend longer than three months or slept with a woman... I was not quite 26-years-of age then.

Now, one year later, I am 27, and have have: survived living on my own, learned how to cook a few meals that were actually quite decent, communicated with the Japanese well enough so that I am not isolated, and have slept with 13 women.

Lucky number 13.

I can't complain - at least not really. I had gone, in one fell swoop on a long airplane flight, from dud to stud... and I can't understand why - not that I am trying to figure that out.

Maybe I'm just more confident, and have been exuding that confidence since arriving here... you know... everyone is shy and nervous, but when someone has the appearance of being out-going, people tend to gravitate toward them.

That explains my first girlfriend Ashley, but doesn't explain why or how I've slept with a lot of beautiful Japanese women.

Want to know how? I just kind of just sit around and wait for them to approach me. After we say hello (me in Japanese, they in English), we might have a drink, or if we are not in a bar, perform small talk. I tell them they are pretty, they get all gooey,  and off to my apartment we rumble. Rocket-science it ain't.

I'm not bad-looking. I'm tall, in shape, have a decent personality and a great sense of humor - plus, should it matter, I'm goofy but intelligent. To the Japanese, I am not quite the standard, garden variety gaijin (Ho-ho-ho!), as I am of Indian extraction (dot not the feather), but have all the mannerism and idiosyncrasies of a Canadian - though I don't say 'eh' a lot and never say 'oot and aboot' (for out and about) because I don't know anyone who has ever been out and about. And, just because I wrote it, it doesn't mean that you heard it as 'oot and aboot'. 

But this recent fling-thing with Junko has me both confused and proud of myself.

Yes, I'm confused because of what she is doing to herself, but I am proud that I was able to screw the brains out of a woman who should have been a fashion model or adult-video star. And even more proud for ending it. That last bit of pride confuses me.

Hey - want to know what we did to each other? Use you imagination and think of the most hot, wet and sticky things two people can mostly legally do to each other sexually...  done? Good... well, Junko and I did that as a part of our normal sex life. And we went off the rails from there.

So, yeah... Junko was young, intelligent, experimental, gorgeous, flexible, and into me. The problem was that she also had a Japanese boyfriend - for appearances.

She occasionally slept with him, because that is what boyfriends and girlfriends might do. I didn't have a problem with Kenichi. He didn't know about me, and I was doing all sorts of sexual things to the woman he would walk hand-in-hand with down in Utsunomiya-shi where they went to university together.

Kenichi was out of Junko's league... not in the looks department... he was a good-looking guy - more handsome than me, I think... and that's why they were together, in my opinion. But still, Junko was hot.

It's better to look good than to feel good.

Kenichi and Junko looked like the Japanese version of Ken & Barbie. Again... no one really wants Ken, but everyone wants Barbie.

Me? I made Junko feel good physically (which made her feel good mentally). She and I only left my apartment once where we were be seen in public together, and that was only because she thought we were far enough away from my home base of Ohtawara where she thought she would be safe from people recognizing me, which would in turn cause people to wonder who she was, which could get back to her Ken doll.

Silly Junko. There was one fatal flaw with that line of thinking... while it is true that I am a very recognizable gaijin (foreigner)—especially in the northern sector of Tochigi-ken—Junko has the kind of looks that makes both men and women stare just that extra second longer.

I noticed (because that is what I do) that the Japanese locals would look at HER first, and then glance over at me to see who was lucky enough to be with this goddess.

But that's not the problem. I am jealous, a bit, of Kenichi, because while I don't envy him being screwed around on by his girlfriend, I do want Junko to be my girlfriend. Why am I good enough to have intercourse or whatever it is we do, but not good enough to be with all day and night? I want what he has, along with what I had.

I said 'had' - past tense. But that's not why I had to break up with Junko. She also had four more boyfriends. When the hell did she find the time? She was with me in the evenings and night (and we never slept!), at school during the day... so what's with the four other guys?

Apparently these other four men were the real suckers. They would buy Junko presents (apparently at her urging), all for the hope that she would sleep with them. Even if one would rebel, I am sure a new fish would come along and buy her what she wants.

What the hell does Junko need that for? Kenichi as the boyfriend or I, as the lover, would buy her things.

Don't get me wrong. I don't mind buying a woman presents - but only when I feel like it. It's not a quid pro quo type of thing. I don't buy a woman presents hoping to get sex or to thank her for sex... I do so because at the time - when you really like someone or are in love with them - it seems like the right thing to do.

And that's why I think there is more to Junko than meets the eye. She gave me a book months ago when she was stalking me for sex. Hell... maybe she bought it, and maybe it was given to her by one of her lazy, diamond-studded monkeys - who knows?

The point is, she gave it to me. The thing I figured out aboot (dammit!) about Junko is, even with the presents she was getting from the other men, it was presents she suggested she should receive. That means she must have suggested someone get this book for her... because she wanted to give it to me.

But you know what? That's all bull. She told me she bought me the book because she thought I would like it. I believe that because I want to believe that, and because I think it's true.

The book Junko bought me? It was a book on zen philosophy.

And that was when I fell in love with her. She bought me a book. And it wasn't a book that I wanted or even thought I wanted to read. It was a book she liked that she thought I would enjoy.  

She looked inside me and thought: I don't know if he will like this, but I want him to, because I do.

It wasn't a test... it was just a way for us to connect in a non-sexual manner, which, when you think about it, is really quite sexual.

I only just thought about it as I sat here alone in my large, three-bedroom apartment. I had just kicked her out... three hours ago... and I haven't moved - frozen in time and space.

So... I get up slowly, grab a Coke from my fridge, and then mosey over to my bookcase and pluck the book Junko gave me. I never read it before.... probably because she and I were screwing our brains out every time we saw each other, and I was sleepwalking through work during the day.

Now... with her gone... I finally have time. But, despite knowing that losing Junko is a good thing for me... I can't help but feel the loss... and so, to honor her, I begin reading the book on Zen Buddhism.

I know what you are thinking. The main focus behind the concept of zen, is that you don't think about the past or the future and instead concentrate on the present, because that's all you have. Me reading a book on zen given to me by Junko - that's screwed up! It is.

Here's what's even more screwed up. And I know it is when I make it my plan.

I only read one page, and then put it down.

I'm going to do this everyday. And when I finally finish, I hope I am over her. But... I doubt it.

On the plus side, at least I won't have to buy Junko a Christmas present.

On the down side, I already have something for her.

Somewhere feeling screwed, screwy and screwed up and missing her terribly,
Andrew Joseph
Today's blog title is by Our Lady Peace - a damn fine Canadian rock and roll band. I went to Our Lady of Peace grade school in Etobicoke (now a part of Toronto). No relation.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Just Friends? How To Take The Next Step!

God help me, but I came across this blog down below and laughed to myself.

How to take the next step from being friends to lovers? In truth, I have been the friend to so many women that I have wanted to screw - but not once has that ever panned out.

Now... that was with Canadian women - not Japanese women... so perhaps there is a difference and perhaps the blog I have a link to will help you.

Personally, I doubt it, but unfortunately (!!!!) I am not in a position to try this advice out and give you my honest opinion. 
Just ask me out for Kami's sake!
When I was back in Japan, I did things the old fashioned way... I let my female Japanese friends remain my female Japanese friends; found female Japanese to screw; found female Japanese I wanted to date (and screw). I did not blur the lines. When it became obvious that woman I wanted to sleep with was only going to be a friend, I moved on, because as stupid as this sounds, there were plenty of women in Japan who would sleep with me.

That's not ego to me. That's self-confidence. That's what you need to exude without being a prick. I probably went to that extreme every once in a while in Japan, but there's nothing like the cold slap of reality in your face to make you wake up and smell the o-cha.

If you are reading my blogs (with the rock song titles) about my diary and life in Japan, you realize that I did sleep with a lot of women (and I'm only up to the 16 month mark!), and that I was kind of messed up about it because I wanted to date (and screw) women, not just screw them. I would want that even now, 20 years later. Form and substance.

Trust me... women can always find a guy to screw (pick me!), but to find a guy they want to date... that takes some work, and where I was (am in my blog) at 16 months into my stay in Japan, I wasn't putting in the real work. Yet.

Stop being A doorknob - be THIS doorknob!
Please check out this blog posted on  It's called Pushing Your Guy Past "Just Good Friends"

Hopefully it shows you some insight on what you need to do. Otherwise... try my blog on How To Date Japanese Women... something I picked up a couple of weeks after where I currently am in my blog. (It's a very popular piece of writing - for me - with well over 2,000 hits and counting every day). I wish I had read it 22 years ago.  

Andrew Joseph