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Thursday, August 31, 2017

William Hagerty New U.S. Ambassador To Japan

It beats me how I could have forgotten all about the lovely Caroline Kennedy, but when Donald J. Trump ascended to the presidency of the United States, her days as the U.S. ambassador to Japan were numbered.

in fact, she left the post on January 18, 2017 after arriving as ambassador on November 12, 2013.

While I’m unsure if I think the name Caroline is hot, or if I think she is, Caroline Kennedy will be missed by this dumb blogger.

Taking her place - ascending to the position of US Ambassador to Japan is William F. Hagerty, who took up his post on July 27, 2017… which kind of means there was no US ambassador to Japan for over six months.

With the posting, Hagerty becomes (essentially) the 42nd U.S. ambassador to Japan.

I said "essentially" in that last sentence only because before there were actual ambassadors to japan, there were also Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary titles doing the same thing, and positions called "residential ministers."

Like most of President Trumps appointees, William Francis Hagerty IV (born on August 14, 1959 in Nashville, Tennessee) is a successful businessman rather than one skilled in detente, but who the heck possesses ambassador qualities—oh yeah… anyone on the JET Programme… at least that was the case in the early days of JET.

I can only assume they would want those type of skills still.

Hagerty was previously the managing director and co-founder of Hagerty Peterson & Company, a private equity investment firm.

On March 27, 2017, president Donald Trump nominated Hagerty to serve as U.S. ambassador to Japan, succeeding president Obama appointee Kennedy.

It took the U.S. senate until July 13, 2017 to confirm Hagerty as Trump’s selection (they have to do a lot of vetting… make sure there’s no record of him calling anyone a “Nip” or anyone having seen him pull the corners of his eyes and say anything stupid like “Me Japanese business man from Beijing.”

At least I assume there is vetting going on. Senate voted Hagerty in via a 86-12 vote… which makes me wonder just what those 12 people had against Hagerty.

If it’s just voting against Hagerty because he’s a Republican and you’re not, that’s stupid. There should be a reason why you find his position as ambassador to Japan as objectionable. It doesn’t even matter HOW he was deemed acceptable for the position, what matters is HOW he is the right choice to work with the Japanese people on behalf of the U.S. 

On July 27, 2017 that U.S. vice-president Mike Pence administered the oath of office to Hagerty, who became the 42nd United States Ambassador to Japan.

Andrew Joseph

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

North Korea Fires Missile Towards Japan

Ho-kay… North Korea is one brazen mo-fo.

On August 29, 2017 (Japan time), North Korea fired a ballistic missile towards Tokyo.

It scared the government enough for Tokyo to issue a warning to the people in Hokkaido to take cover.

The missile flew over Hokkaido and landed in the sea after traveling 2736 kilometers (1,700 miles).

“North Korea’s reckless action of launching a missile that passed over Japan is an unprecedented, serious and grave threat,” says Japan prime minister Abe Shinzo (surname first).

Despite previous  talk, neither Japan nor its United States ally deigned to shoot the missile down as it crossed into Japan airspace… perhaps fearing a nuclear fallout…

Oh yeah… that was just a threat in case North Korea fired at Guam… but I’m pretty sure I recall Japan saying it would blast any missile flying over its airspace…

So WTF happened?

If I’m North Korea, I now know that all the opposition talk was all just bluster. If North Korea was so inclined, what would stop it from doing such a brazen missile test over Japan again and again?

Back in 1998, North Korea fired its first missile over Japan… and did so again in 2009…. so it’s not like this is the first time such a breach has occurred.

Of course, in 2008 and 2009 North Korea said each of those missiles flying towards Japan was actually carrying satellites into orbit.

Of course, in 2017 no such claim was made.

The 2009 launch of a missile occurred very early in the tenure of U.S. president Barack Obama, and it is thought the North Koreans were testing the mettle of the presidency. I have no idea if that is true, but it’s a theory floated out there.

Can the same be said of the most recent 2017 launch? Hardly… while President Trump is only eight months into a tumultuous presidency, the timing is still far off from North Korea’s alleged testing of President Obama.

While no injuries occurred during the recent missile launch over Japan, when the missile warning flashed across television sets, you can get there were quite a few soiled undies. 

No word on what type of missile it was, but it was most likely NOT a nuclear warhead tipped missile. North Korea is, at this time, merely testing President Trump and Prime Minister Abe, not to mention the deployment method of its missile systems.

Andrew Joseph

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Japanese Scientists Go Deep To Find The Fish

With apologies to Monty Python—though I have no idea why I am apologizing—Japanese researchers from Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) and the Japan Broadcasting Corporation (though I’m pretty sure the JBC didn’t do anything except provider a few yen and broadcast the report) have filmed fish at  the deepest depth below sea level.

Lowering a hi-tech camera apparatus into the deeps of the Mariana Trench—the so-called lowest point of the ocean—at 8,178 meters—they spotted a snailfish swimming about. That's the snailfish in the image above - a photo taken from another expedition - current expedition shots to follow bellow)
Bathymetric map of the Mariana Trench.

Detailed map from red square in Fig. 1A. Two lander deployment sites are shown as blue stars.

What is especially cool about this discovery, is that scientists have determined that the depth of 8,200 meters (five miles - yeah - now it sounds deep, eh?) is the lowest depth ANY fish could possibly exist on Earth.

This absolute depth is determined by a set of competing effects relating to a chemical called trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO).

1) TMAO prevents proteins from collapsing under high pressure—meaning the more TMAO a fish contains, the greater the depths it can survive;

2) Conversely, the greater the concentration of TMAO in a fish means more seawater water is drawn in through osmosis. While this is a good thing, it is only a good thing for a while. The deeper the depth, higher TMAO levels reverse the osmosis pressure, causing brain cells to swell and burst. Ka-blammo… like something out of Scanners. You ever watch The Big Bang Theory when Sheldon keeps trying to use his mind to blow up Leonard’s head? Scanners

Anyhow… while these snailfish have been previously filmed swimming at 8,152 meters (a full 26 meters less than the current depth found by the Japanese team), we find that the snailfish may actually be able to hit that maximum mark… it only being 22 meters away from ka-blammo! Scanners and snailfish brains everywhere.

Using a 4K camera trap baited with mackerel, the whole device is called a hadal lander.

Compact hadal-lander, all parts used are designed to be used below 10,000 metsrA: Front view, (1) Flasher; (2) Syntactic form; (3) Acoustic transducer; (4) Emergency timer for weight release; (5) Glass sphere and its plastic cover; (6) LED illuminations; (7) 4K cameras; (9) Weight release device; (10) mackerel bait; and (11) Weight
B: Rear view, (12) CTD sensor
While snailfish did find the mackerel bait at a depth of 7,498 meters during the initial depth test, the lander was later moved to the associated 8,176 meters ... and it sat there for awhile... some 17 hours and 37 minutes for the first snailfish to find the hardal lander bait… and it was only a single snailfish… which isn’t bad, really…

Test 1: Organisms recorded at 7,498 meters
A: First, amphipods appeared around the mackerels. Then, snailfish appeared.
B: Giant amphipod and snailfish.

The snailfish mush have an incredible sense of smell to spot the mackerel meal in the inky depths of the Marianas Trench at such a depth… so even finding the bait is akin, to me, like finding a needle in a haystack… They have to drop the bait machine in an area within the Marianas Trench that just so happens to be in the nasal range of a snailfish or any other type of aquatic creature…

If you are like me and assumed that the hardal lander calculated the depth within the waters by some internal device that actually just counts off the millimeters as it sinks as though it had some sort of sewing measuring tape about it, rest assured that calculating the depth is far more a complicated process than people like myself can fathom.

The depth was determined by conductivity, temperature and pressure (CTD) sensor installed on a lander. Seriously… it’s not just a measure of height… its conductivity, temperature and pressure… holy crap.

I wonder what sort of water pressure is exerted upon things at such a depth… and why doesn’t the snailfish collapse in on itself?
Record-Setting Test: Deepest fish recorded at 8,178 metersA: Snailfish swimming.
B: Snailfish resting on the sea floor.

This leads us back onto the fact that water pressure and temperature affect compressibility.

For example… the weight of water a mile deep… the water’s weight is pushing DOWN at about 150x normal atmospheric pressure. 

As you could surmise, a fish (or plant) near the surface of the water feels little effect even if there is 10,000 feet below it.

Conversely, though, at a depth of 10,000 feet, that fish or plant is feeling a lot of pressure owing to the weight of the water above it.

One atmosphere = weight of Earth’s atmosphere at sea level, 14.6 pounds per square inch.

What does that mean… well… if you are floating at sea level, or even standing on land at sea level… every square inch of your body surface feels a force of 14.6 pounds.

Now… in the water… for every 10 meters down you go, the body is weighted down in water pressure by one atmosphere.

Down 50 meters? That’s 5 atmospheres…

At 5000 meters = 500 atmospheres… which means that your body is feeling a lot of weight upon it… 500x more than at sea level.

So how come the snail fish doesn’t collapse upon itself and become extinct?

Did you know that deep sea fish do not have air in their bodies… no swim bladders… no air, no pressure problem. 

So… let’s try and do some math…

at 8178 meters deep, that snailfish and the hardal lander we’re feeling 11,915 psi (pounds per square inch) or, using our now familiar term, 810.77 atmospheres. 

Round it off…. 810.77 atmospheres… apparently a human being has withstood 9 atmospheres… but saturation divers could go down to maybe 330 meters (1,000 feet) at 33 atmospheres if clad in special suits and breathing a special helium/oxygen mixture…

And… long before one’s body is scrunched like an empty beer can across some university football jock’s forehead… one’s bones in the body die from a lack of blood circulation as fine capillaries fail… ie: aseptic bone necrosis.

But that’s because we have air in our bodies… snailfish do not.

Watch a video of the snailfish having a deep sea snack... probably the first time in its life it has ever eaten a mackerel... maybe it likes it so much that it and other snailfish suddenly go crazy for the taste of mackerel... leading it to decimate the global mackerel population... 

Sayanora mackerel... 

Andrew Joseph

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Waterfall - by Yoshida Hiroshi

This is quite the impressive ukiyo-e art piece... something I saw for the first time mere hours before this blog was published.

Called the Waterfall, it is by Yoshida Hiroshi (surname first, 吉田 博) who was born September 19, 1876 in Kurume-shi, Fukuoka-ken, dying on April 5, 1950 of old age, I assume.

Born in the era after the samurai, Yoshida was allowed to see and feel western influences. As such, he was trained in oil painting, and applied his skill from the art style into his ukiyo-e work. 

Andrew Joseph

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Kit Kat Youth Citrus A Hit

This past August 1, 2017, Nestlé Japan released another limited edition flavor of Kit Kat bars.

This one is a little bit difficult to translate, but from what I can tell, it’s a Youth Citrus version… and it’s not so much a new flavor as it is a version created for a specific organization: the Safety Baseball Federation, who say that ¥0.10 (~ CDN$0.0011432) per BOX sold will be distributed to youth baseball in Japan via the All Japan Soft Baseball Federation. I'm not sure about that translation...

I haven’t seen a proper English translation, and pulled the data from the Nestlé Japan website (, and stuffed what I could into Google Translate.. and then took that mess and tried to decode it well enough to provide what little information I can here.

The whole concept behind the Safety Baseball Federation is to support the creation of an environment that allows kids to learn baseball and have fun.

Well… I’m all for that.

One of the reasons most people seem to like me when they meet me, is that I don’t come across as an a$$hole. No really. I’m even a good kisser and kiss-up.

I am of the old-fashioned belief that if I can’t say anything nice, I shouldn’t say anything at all… which is why I say a lot of things… what with being able to accentuate the positive.

In my head I doubt I am a very positive person… but outwardly I try and exude that feeling to allow others the chance to get a good vibe offa me.

If you have read any of my advice article in Rife where I tell newcomers and wannabe JET participants, and those looking to meet Japanese women (or men), that smiling outwardly all the time does wonders for breaking down cultural barriers.

In September of 2016, I remained standing when all others took a step back, and was unanimously elected head coach of a Peewee Select baseball team made up of 11-13-year-old boys (though girls were certainly welcome) whose baseball skills were not as strong as the “A-Team” chosen ahead of them.

The baseball had told the parents (and myself) that the upcoming season wasn’t about wins, but rather about developing some baseball skills.

We won twice, tied once and were beaten soundly too many times to recall, but my job as head coach was to continue to temper parental expectations (because who the hell remembers a single conversation from 11 months or less ago), teach the players some baseball skills (I took seven baseball coaching courses), and ensure that the kids played baseball in a fun and safe environment.

So… my job as a coach was to teach baseball skills in a fun and safe environment, and anything other than a loss would be a bonus.

To that I succeeded.

I had issues with parents, and coaches, and crap like that - and even tear-drenched meltdowns from an emotional player or two… but the kids, I feel, came through it relatively unscathed emotionally, had a lot of fun (and yeah, you can always have fun by winning more… try doing that when you lose all the time… that’s tough) even though we didn’t win, and I think they even learned a few more baseball skills that they can use next year.

That was also the goal… to make sure they came back next year. I don’t care if it’s in my league or somewhere else… I didn’t want a kid to lose his love of the sport, and I certainly didn’t want it to be because of anything I did or didn’t do.

It’s a baseball game… a game… games are fun.

This is the feeling the Kit Kat Youth Citrus bar is attempting to evoke.

The feeling of youth… when things were fun… when all you had to do was play a game for a couple of hours…

I’m not sure just how much fun it is to be a coach… while I don’t mind the two hour practices in the drizzle, spending an hour to make a line up before a game to not only ensure I give my team the best chance of winning, but to ensure that everyone plays equal amounts in a fielding position (of my choosing) where I think they have the best chance to excel, regardless of what they think is their best position.

There were some poor sports amongst the other teams, from player up to coach… and heck, I bet I was one of the few coaches to congratulate an opposing player for a great hit that just occurred, which confused my players who couldn’t understand why I was rooting against them for the other team.

Life lesson: Sometimes others can be better than you are, and rather than hate them, applaud them and then try and get better yourself…

Some of the kids will recall that sentiment … maybe it’s something they’ll always remember… I hope, but am not holding out for that result… the kids are pretty youthful after all.

I love that there are four different packaging graphics one can collect!

  • Nothing better than seeing a ball smacked for a home run - unless you are on the opposing  team, of course! Man - that's a bright star on the box...

  •  Nothing wrong with the image of the winning team bouncing up and down screaming their number one - unless you lost and thus have to watch out you don’t step in number two. Hmm... maybe it's a comment? Are they saying they are No. 1 or are they trying (badly) to point at the comet? Or maybe they are pointing to where the comet is going to hit?

  •  Nothing better than having a team stand in dumbfounded attention while a comet streaks by overhead heralding the doom of the human race and the rise of our insect overlords. I’m sure they’ll like playing baseball after a few millennia when they grow excessively larger owing to a change in the radiation fields… or maybe they are standing at attention while the Japan national funeral march dirge anthem drones on. 

  • The baseball equipment - lovely stuff… the team has been evaporated... damn comets... always harbringing doom. Speaking of baseball equipment... did you ever have to carry around two sets of catchers' gear, a bucket of 30 baseballs and a glove, while making sure the backpack you are carrying contains a couple of clean Game Balls, have that envelope of Umpire Money tucked into your polyester white pants, just as your polyester shirt is, hoping like heck you remembered to bring the roster and positions sheet because it took you an hour to create, and where the heck is that official carbon-copy roster sheet for the umpire, other team and for your parent to keep score with? Holy crap… did I bring water? Why is my backpack wet? Did I remember to bring my son? Does he have water? He forgot his bat, batting helmet, batting gloves, baseball glove, and baseball bag, but remembered the water - he never remembers the water!
To continue Point #4 that I stupidly labeled as a bullet point: And now I’m there one hour early before the home game (better than having to travel all over the city for an away game where I have to leave work a couple of hours early - that ain’t so bad - unless it costs me a job) so I can unlock the “safes” try and figure out where the holes on the field are to plug in the bases… I swear there was a hole for second base here last week!!! (For one practice, five of us (including parents) gave up after searching for the hole for 45 minutes.)

The fun… the fun only starts when I go out and shake hands with the opposing coach and umpires.

Then, I’m suppose to strategize… and crap, the kid I had starting as my pitcher can’t pitch because he went to baseball camp and spent three straight days throwing over 100 pitches each day… who does that?! Unlike other teams, I only have two kids who have decent pitching skills…. losing one… uh-oh… can I pitch?

It’s stressful… and yet I have to keep the gang loose on the bench… make them laugh… keep them into the game… did you know that 11-13-year-old boys on a developmental baseball team have short attention spans? On the bench, and in the field.

I still wouldn’t have traded away my autumn, winter, spring and summer away for anything else.

I never even played organized baseball as a kid… I played pick-up ball with kids in the neighborhood… and by doing do, I probably played more ball this year than my team… and I put in over 100 hours of my time.

Of course, in Japan a good Peewee baseball team will practice some 20 hours on a weekend… meaning that after a month-and-a-half, they will have practiced more ball than my team did all year.

As an aside… Japan’s little league national team - the same age group as my kids - defeated Team Canada 10-0, limiting Canada to just one hit.

The Nestlé Japan Kit Kat Youth Citrus may not be everyone’s cup of tea when it comes to flavors involving quasi chocolate (it is white chocolate, after all), but purchasing a box ensures two things:
  1. your support for youth baseball in a fun and safe manner;
  2. a larger a$$.
You can find the Youth Citrus variety of Kit Kat bars at convenience stores across the country.

Hey! I didn’t mention diabetes... well, I mean... if you are buying a box of chocolates...

... somewhere diabetes is like a box of chocolates,

Andrew Forest Gump Joseph

PS: I still have house league baseball and league-wide practises, the house league play-offs, and finally a banquet, and holy crap, try-outs for next year’s team… maybe get in a few practices with the new team in October before getting November and December off… and oh yeah, it’s hockey season now.
I’m assistant hockey coach in a low-level fun league where I hold the bench doors open and ensure they are closed properly… plus there’s a higher end league we are trying out for the first time… and guess what… I’m pretty sure I’ll be keeping my mouth shut except to cheer on the kids.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Pepper, The Buddhist Funeral Robot Priest

Robots from Japan are certainly interesting.

They have been known to make a production line at a manufacturing facility run more efficiently… they have helped lonely people seem less lonely (but really they still are), and have even been used at sexual mating partners helping one cum…

… but to go?

Yes… brought out in 2014 by the Japanese Softbank Group Corp., the four-foot tall humanoid robot it sells via the name Pepper (“Peh-pah”, if you were to phonetically sound it out in Japanese-English) , has been converted into a Buddhist priest, thanks to the addition of some prayer chanting software created by Nissei Eco Co., an unlisted plastic molding maker…

... which seems even more odd to me… like why is a plastic molding company writing Buddhist robot software?


Seen recently at the 2017 Life Ending Expo in Tokyo, Pepper the Buddhist robot has been programmed to perform Buddhist funeral rites—you can tell, because it has on the clothing, which it fits into very well...

... which leads us to: 

The Brady Bunch - Adios, Johnny Bravo (watch it all - but essentially the 4:00 mark)

Its designer claims Pepper the funeral robot could step in when a priest was not available.

When the fug is a Buddhist temple so busy that they can’t take care of a funeral for someone?

Hmmm…  it appears that there is indeed a shortage of Buddhist priests in Japan, and it’s something that can be blamed on its aging population base.

I know… everyone’s dumping on the old people, but in this case it’s less of a dump, and more of me just pointing out the facts.

Aging population base (median age of 46, one of the highest on the planet), with a negative population growth thanks to a shrinking birth rate.

So yeah… lots of older folk. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but this increasing larger population base consists of people who are now on a more limited fixed income…  

These older people are unable to provide as much financial support to their local Buddhist temple, and the younger generation isn’t picking up the slack… so… and I’m not sure if this is ethical, but some Buddhist priests are going out into the non-spiritual world to find employment in a second job to help bring home the bacon.

As such… if you need a Buddhist priest when your Grandma finally dies at the age of 247, you can’t find one because they are all doing a second shift at Kia factory building everyone a new Soul.

Okay, okay… Kia is a Korean company headquartered in Seoul, producing the Soul auto… so no Japanese Buddhist priest would ever be caught dead or alive or in some sort of spirit-form manufacturing Korean cars… I guess we can assume it’s some sort of Nissan… hey, maybe a Buddhist priest had his grubby little hands on my Micra SV?!

Joke aside, there really does seem to be a shortage of priests available when you need one thanks to them working a second job.  Really.

And then, should you be lucky enough to get a Buddhist priest home (at the temple), and he’s not busy sweeping out the dirt from his frontyard that is all dirt, well, holy crap… Japanese Buddhist funerals are bloody expensive!

Getting your human priest to perform the funeral can set one back as much as ¥240,000 (~US $,2196)… which may explain why so many Japanese people die at such an old age:
  1. they are afraid to die and have to foot such a hefty bill;
  2. It takes them that long extra after they retire to save up that money… because not many non-seniors are putting aside money for a funeral, at least not outside of Japan, as most figure it’ll be someone else’s problem.
If you were to have Pepper the Buddhist robot perform your funeral… it will only cost ¥50,000 (~US 457.44)… and what the heck… that’s more money you get to leave behind for those ungrateful kids and grandkids.

But… is a robot performing over your loved one’s funeral enough like the real thing? 

Because I am not a Buddhist, I can’t really provide an opinion. In a Christian funeral, once you are dead, you are dead… an the funeral is pretty much a way for the living to pay respects to you. There’s that aspect that once you die, your spirit flies up or down to a cool or uncool place, or maybe even to a Trump hotel, er, purgatory to work of some minor crap or not to see where your eventual destination might be… I’m not being secular here.

But does a Buddhist funeral service actually prepare a person for an afterlife? is that the belief? Does the service need to be performed by an actually practiced Buddhist priest, or can a robot do the safe thing… meaning what the heck, you could give ME ¥35,000  and I could perform the service for you, provided I learned how to speak Japanese.  

After listening to the droning monotone of Pepper the Buddhist robot, that’s either a soulless replicon of a priest, or the best damn impression I have ever hear.

Monotone? Yeah, sure… but have you ever casually listened in on a service a a Buddhist temple? It’s pretty dry… and while I suspect that may have a lot to do with me not understanding Japanese, I’m pretty sure that the dead wouldn’t care.

Why would they need to be petty?

The life was lived, and if they did it properly, it was a life worth living. It’s not like one’s organs have to be removed, and the body wrapped in linen after the body has been anointed in oils, and the servants and retainers and wives are all killed and placed outside my own ziggurat tomb to do my bidding in the afterlife…

Why wouldn’t a robot do just as well.

While no funerals have yet been scheduled with Pepper performing the service… is it only a matter of time?

Until this news made the global rounds, did people actually know about Pepper and his call to the philosophy that is Buddhism?

That’s right… Buddhism isn’t about religion… Buddhism is a philosophy… ergo, Pepper the inhuman Buddhist robot could actually do the job as effectively as any living automobile assembly line worker.

Check out the video below for more spooky “action” from the 2017 Life Ending Expo, August 23, 2017.


You’ve got to be in love (to love a love song),
Andrew “Very Brady” Joseph
PS: A big smiley sideways glance to my buddy Julien for sending this topic my way!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Got A Cough? Have A Kit Kat

We all know that Nestlé Japan has some pretty bizarre flavors of Kit Kat chocolate bars specific to the Japanese market. Don’t believe me? Check out my comprehensive list here featuring some 163+ flavor variations (not just packaging differences)… flavor varieties: HERE.

While some border on WTF is that owing to our ignorance of Japanese flavors, others we marvel at because it sounds intriguing enough that you might actually enjoy it.

And then comes Kit Kat Nodo Ame Aji, which if you aren’t as fluent in Japanese as I am (Buddha help you), translates to Kit Kat Cough Drop Flavor.

Holy fug.

The Kit Kat Cough Drop Flavor bar actually contains 2.1% lozenge powder per stick… so you definitely get that fresh, medicinal flavor we all crave when we run out of methadone to combat our heroin addiction. 

Just like the cold sores in your throat, the Kit Kat Cough Drop Flavor bar is white… a white chocolate bar with cough drop medicine in it.

I suppose the only thing that defines a Kit Kat bar in Japan is the fact that it is four fingers of chocolate and wafers that the consumer can snap off and eat one at a time… I mean… have YOU ever seen anyone bite off a portion of more than one finger of Kit Kat in the same bite?

White chocolate isn’t even chocolate… White chocolate is typically made from a blend of cocoa butter, milk solids, sugar, milk fat and lecithin… whereas real chocolate should contain chocolate solids like cocoa powder.

Cough drop medicine in chocolate?

I think Nestlé Japan is just fugging with people now.

The packaging—which, come to think of it… I am unsure each individual pack holds four sticks/fingers—features the shouting visage of former professional soccer player and soccer broadcaster Matsuki Yasutaro (surname first):  “It’s one more point! Another point!!”

I’ve played soccer for 12 years, coached it for 10 more… I have no frickin’ idea why he’s shouting about “one more point.” It’s goals and assists in a game… and when you win it’s three-points, one for a draw and zero for a loss… so… one more point for achieving a draw? Or… did a team… achieve a win and because of the three points ended up one point ahead of someone else?

Do I have to look?

Matsuki Yasutaro (松木 安太郎), the 5’-6” (1.68 meter) defender, played 269 games for Yomiuri between 1973-1990 (nine goals), the Japan national team 11 times between 1984-1986 (zero goals), managed Verdy Kawasaki in 1993-94, Cerezo Osaka in 1998, and Tokyo Verdy in 2001.

He was J-League manager of the year in both 1993 and 1994, with the team earning 59 wins to only 21 losses. 

The English Wikipedia entry for the 59-year-old (born November 28, 1957 in Chūō, Tokyo) merely states that “He also worked as a football commentator.”… which is past tense.

It does not offer just what he was doing in 1995-1997... which is odd considering he was apparently the two-time consecutive J-League manager of the year...

On the paperboard box holding multiple Kit Kat bars, the vocal screaming of Matsuki offers a different phrase:  “There’s a battle there that most definitely can’t be lost.”


Maybe it loses something in translation. Unless he definitely meant to utter an utterly obvious statement. Who the fug wants to lose a battle?

Then again… it’s perfectly acceptable to lose a battle, as long as it means winning the war.

By that, a commander could use troops to create a diversion by pulling some of the enemy troops, exposing a weaker competition for an advancing party…

But… despite what soccer fans wildly believe, it’s soccer/football… not war. Maybe it’s me… I loved playing the sport, but I have a very difficult time embracing it as a fan to just sit back and watch.

I think I would also have a difficult time embracing the Kit Kat Cough Drop Flavor… but I think Nestlé Japan may simply realize that it has created a collector’s market with its flavor variant Kit Kat offerings.

I admit that the concept of creating a collector’s market seems to have worked very well for Nestlé Japan.

Kit Kat is Japan's top selling chocolate brand and its sales have grown by 50% since 2010, the spokeswoman said.

Apparently this limited edition Kit Kat single pack bar is available in Japan for ¥140 (~ CDN $1.61) until September 10, 2017.

Of course, I have also updated my definitive Japan Kit Kat list, that I non-ironically call: Every Frickin' Japanese Kit Kat Bar Ever.

Have a look... and if you think I'm missing a flavor variety and can prove it with an accompanying photo, I would greatly appreciate it. 

As for the Cough Drop Flavor... it's pretty obvious that they wouldn't dare use any of the Fishermen's Friend or the black licorice Halls lozenge. I wonder... does it really contain "medicine".

Aren't they afraid of someone over-dosing on cough meds by eating a box of the stuff? It sounds... irresponsible as well as something that helps maintain Japan's status as having "weird and interesting" snacks.

This Cough Drop Flavor... it's a hoax, right? Right? Uh-oh...
Andrew Joseph

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Japan's Mitsubishi J8M Shushi Rocket-powered Aircraft

For any of you aviation aficionados or WWII historians, if you think the aircraft in the photo above looks a heck of a lot like Germany's Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet, well... you know your stuff.

This is Japan's Mitsubishi J8M1 Shūsui (三菱 J8M 秋水, which translates in English to "Autumn Water", which is a poetic term meaning "Sharp Sword", and is derived from the swishing sound of a sword... which is a long way of saying cooooool!).

It was indeed going to be a license-built copy of the ME 163 Komet... the only problem is, that Germany was unable to ship a working version to Japan for reference.

Imagine that... executing Jews, Gypsies and homosexuals with impunity during WWII, and Germany still cared enough about copyrights and trademarks and other registered things—there must be order—that it made Japan do things as a law-abiding country of the planet Earth.

To me, that's the actual crux of this blog... but since I just wrote it, and that's all there is to say, let's move on.

Like the Nazi GermanyME 163 Komet, the J8M1 Shūsui is a rocket-powered interceptor aircraft.

But first... some historical context.

Because the Allies had been strategically bombing military targets in Germany with such behemoths as the Boeing B-29 Superfortress to weaken its offensive war efforts, Japan took note and realized the same could happen to it once the US got bored with the European theater and
Nazi Germany™.

After the Japanese learned of the existence of the Komet in 1943—it wasn't spying, rather the fact that Japanese military attachés visited Bad Zwischenahn airfield of Erprobungskommando 16, the Luftwaffe evaluation squadron charged with service test of the revolutionary rocket-propelled interceptor—Japan negotiated the rights to license and produce the aircraft and its Walter HWK (Hellmuth Walter Kommanditgesellschaft) 509A rocket engine.

Costs aren't available to me regarding the aircraft, but we do know that engine license cost the Japanese 20 million Reichsmarks, which I'm sure you know as well as I do that that is das boot-load of moolah. I don't have a 2017 equivalent yen value, okay...

The agreement called for Nazi Germany™ to supply the following to Japan by Spring of 1944:
  • Complete blueprints of the Me 163B Komet and the HWK 509A engine;
  • One complete Komet; two sets of sub-assemblies and components;
  • Three complete HWK 509A engines;
  • Inform Japan of any improvements and developments of the Komet;
  • Allow the Japanese to study the manufacturing processes for both the Komet and the engine;
  • Allow the Japanese to study Luftwaffe operational procedures for the Komet.
To meet the deadline, Nazi Germany™ broke down one of its Komet's, placing portions of it on two separate transports supposedly with an end-dock of Kobe, Japan.

The aircraft's frame was placed aboard the Japanese submarine RO-501 (formerly
Nazi GermanyU-1224), which left Kiel, Nazi Germany™on March 30, 1944.

The RO-501 was sunk in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on May 13, 1944 by aircraft from the escort carrier USS Bogue.

The aircraft blueprints, and three HWK 509A engines were placed on-board the Japanese submarine I-29, which left Lorient, France on April 16, 1944 and arrived in Singapore on July 14, 1944.

En route to Japan, the I-29 and its aircraft contents were sunk on July 26, 1944 near the Philippines by the United States submarine USS Sawfish.

The fact that the aircraft was still en route to Japan as of July 1944 and was not delivered as promised to Japan by Spring of the same year, shows that German efficiency had been slipping thanks to the harassment affronted it by the Allied countries.

So... with no aircraft and no blueprints sent to it from the supplier, a worried Japan went ahead with its plan of re-creating a Komet look-a-like after discovering that it did have the plans... sort of.

Japanese Commander Iwaya Eiichi, who had traveled from France to Singapore aboard the I-29 before disembarking, had taken with him a basic flight operations manual and had flown into Japan, thus missing the "how's the missus" from the USS Sawfish.

The J8M1 Shūsui project was a joint Imperial Japanese Army Air Service (JAAF)/Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service (JNAF) venture that was wrought with army/navy squabbles from the get go.

While the JAAF wanted a new design to be drawn up because I'm sure they believed a Japanese design would be far superior than anything Nazi Germany™could conceive of... and maybe if they did that, Japan could get its money back.

However, the JNAF, figuring that since Nazi Germany™ has already done the aviation testing and what-not, and man are those Allies being a pain in the royal Imperial rump right now, this part of the group wanted any new design to mimic the Komet since it was assumed its body style was aerodynamically stable.

Obviously, from the photo above, the JNAF won the discussion and issued the 19-shi specification in July 1944 for the design of the rocket-powered defence fighter.

The contract went to Mitsubishi Jukogyo KK, which would produce both the JNAF J8M1 Shūsui version as well as a JAAF version Ki-200.

Mitsubishi's Takahashi Mijiro was chosen to head the project, but unbeknownst to him, the stubborn JAAF decided to try and built its own design to meet the 19-shi specifications, working at its Rikugun Kokugijitsu Kenkyujo (JAAF Aerotechnical Institute) in secret.

Navy versus Army versus Air Force is hardly a new competition, regardless of the country.

Here's what Wikipedia has to say about the design process:

At the 1st Naval Air Technical Arsenal in Yokosuka, in association with Mitsubishi and Yokosuka Arsenal, work began to adapt the Walter HWK 509A engine to Japanese manufacturing capabilities and techniques. This was also where efforts were underway to produce a glider version of the J8M to provide handling data. While working on this glider, the MXY8 Akigusa (秋草, "Autumn Grass"), Mitsubishi completed a mock-up of the J8M1 in September 1944.
Both the JAAF and JNAF approved its design and construction and a prototype was built. In December 1944, the MXY8 was completed and, on 8 December 1944, at the Hyakurigahara Airfield, Lieutenant-Commander Toyohiko Inuzuka took the controls of the MXY8. Once in the air, Inuzuka found the MXY8 almost perfectly emulated the handling characteristics of the Komet. Two additional MXY8 gliders were constructed in the naval yard at Yokosuka, one being delivered to the Rikugun Kokugijitsu Kenkyujo (JAAF Aerotechnical Institute) at Tachikawa for evaluation. The JNAF initiated the construction of another prototype, production designation Ku-13. This was to use water ballast to simulate the weight of an operational J8M complete with engine and weapons. This variant was to be built by Maeda Aircraft Institute, while the JAAF version was to be constructed by Yokoi Koku KK (Yoki Aircraft Co). The JNAF also proposed a more advanced trainer, designated the MXY9 Shūka (秋火, "Autumn Fire") which would be powered by a 2kN (450lbf) thrust Tsu-11 ducted-fan engine. The war, however, ended before this model could be built.
Mitsubishi and partners Nissan and Fuji proceeded with development of the airframe and Yokosuka Arsenal was adapting the engine for Japanese production, designated the Ro.2. The Japanese succeeded in producing prototypes that outwardly looked very much similar to the Komet. The J8M1 had a wet weight that was 400 kg (880 lb) lighter, the aircraft having a plywood main spar and wooden vertical tail. The designers had also dispensed with the armoured glass in the cockpit and the aircraft carried less ammunition and slightly less fuel.
The Ki-200 and the J8M1 differed only in minor items, but the most obvious difference was the JAAF's Ki-200 was armed with two 30mm (1.18 in) Type 5 cannon (with a rate of fire of 450 rounds per minute and a muzzle velocity of 720 m/s (2,400 ft/s), while the J8M1 was armed with two 30 mm (1.18 in) Ho-105 cannon (rate of fire 400 rounds per minute, muzzle velocity 750 m/s (2,500 ft/s). The Ho-105 was the lighter of the two and both offered a higher velocity than the MK 108 cannon of the Me 163 (whose muzzle velocity was 520 m/s (1,700 ft/s). The Toko Ro.2 (KR10) rocket motor did not offer the same thrust rating as the original, and Mitsubishi calculated that the lighter weight of the J8M1 would not offset this. Performance would not be as good as that of the Komet, but was still substantial.
The engine still used the German propellants of T-Stoff oxidizer and C-Stoff fuel (hydrogen peroxide/methanol-hydrazine), known in Japan as Ko and Otsu respectively.
A total of 60 of the training version (Ku-13, Ki-13, MXY-8, MXY-9) were produced by Yokosuka, Yokoi and Maeda. Seven of the operational version (J8M1/Ki-200) were built by Mitsubishi.

Boring, maybe... but the last line is the most interesting... Japan had seven operational rocket-powered J8M1/Ki-200 aircraft ready to take out a B-29 Superfortress, or perhaps take on a more productive offensive attack.

Now... here's an interesting thing... the above Wikipedia entry for the Japanese craft says that on December 8, 1944, during the aircraft's initial test flight at the Hyakurigahara Airfield, Lieutenant-Commander Toyohiko Inuzuka took the controls of the MXY8. Once in the air, Inuzuka found the MXY8 almost perfectly emulated the handling characteristics of the Komet.

A different Wikipedia entry says that seven months later, the same test pilot took out a J8M1 aircraft for its inaugural test flight.

On July 7, 1945, the J8M1 flew for the first time with Inuzuka at the controls—and this time it was a disaster.

While the J8M1 was successful in the initial take-off, its engine failed as it continued to rise during its steep climb... crashing and killing Inuzuka.

And, while it is true that Japan constructed six more prototype J8M1 aircraft, none flew before the war's end...

Ergo... only once did Japan's Mitsubishi J8M1 Shūsui rocket-propelled B-29 Superfortress interceptor aircraft fly... if we can even call it flying if all it did was essentially blast-off before it's engine fizzled causing it to plummet like a rocket into the ground.

Banzai, indeed,
Andrew Joseph™

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

How To Train Your Gaijin

My pal Mike Rogers recently wrote a Marketing Japan column lamenting the “good” old days of riding a Tokyo-area subway, as compared to now, and while Mike is his charming and witty self in the piece, I find that he’s talking pure crap.

You should read his blog HERE first.

Referencing the sarcastically fun days of the 1970s and 80s when he would take a Tokyo subway train into work and suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous sweatiness of the crowds in non-air-conditioned subway cars, I wonder just what good old Mike has been smoking.

He does mention that you used to be able to smoke on subway platforms…

But I take umbrage with his commentary that the subway trains were so-packed that every time he got in he was essentially sexually stimulated by all the rubbing up of men and women against his person.

Mike… while I understand that I only lived in Japan between 1990-1993, and that because I did not live in Tokyo and thus only came into the big city maybe only a few times a month to go dancing and/or get laid, I have no idea where these big crowds on are on the subway line that you speak of.

Every time I entered a subway car—even in rush hour… because that’s sometimes when I got on to travel to wherever the hell it was I thought I was going - the subway cars were either not busy, or I found the Japanese subway riding population so polite that they actually moved aside to ensure I had plenty of room.

I have no idea where people get this bizarre notion that the Japanese are afraid of foreigners!

They were always so kind to shuffle back and to the side, keeping their glistening brown eyes on my sunglasses laden face - heck… even some of the old men and or pregnant women were so blessed with kindness to a foreigner within their midst that they would somehow sense my gaijin presence and awake from a start and race each other to see who could give me their seat first…

Of course, I would never take the seat from the elderly or pregnant or especially the pregnant elderly… because despite my naivety, I do have manners.

Instead, I would always forgo their kind offer of multiple seats to handle my overly-large-by-Japanese-standards frame, and because they were so kind, I would stand right beside them, raise both my sweaty arms up on high (still no air-conditioning in the 1990s, Mike), and grasp hold of the handles placed conveniently at my face level (I must be overly tall or something), and then, because I’m a nice, friendly guy, I would smile, my wide, toothy grin and greet everyone around me with a bow and an ohayo-gozaimasu (pronounced Ohio Go-zai-mass, good morning).

I could tell right then and there that they were surprised at how well I could speak their language, as one brave soul per trip would always look up from pretending to read his bulky copy of Shōnen Jump, and tell me in broken Japanese “Nihongo ga jozu, desu ne (that's pretty good Japanese, bro.)”

My Japanese is pretty good?

Shucks. I could never tell that person that it was the only word of Japanese I had ever learned over my three years in the country.

Well… that and “bigu-bigu”, a phrase I learned I should use when pointing at my crotch - apparently the Japanese women think it’s hilarious… and from what I understand, these Japanese women sure do love a man with a great big sense of humor.

Hmm… come to think of it… that Japanese fellow who—on ever subway trip I ever took in Tokyo—said “Nihongo ga josu desu ne”… I think that was the same guy! Or maybe they just all look similar…

Anyhow, Mike… even if half of what you satirically wrote about the old subway experience was correct… I sure as heck never saw anything like that.

In fact… once upon a time when I was going to travel on a Japanese subway during rush hour… I recall a station attendant come running up to me on the platform - easy to do because the Japanese always seem to give me plenty of room because I’m obviously too clumsy with my backpack… even though I always remove it and hold it in my hands when placed within a subway train.

I have no idea why… but even though I had plenty of room around me at the back of the platform, he pulled me to the front of the platform where the train stops… and it was funny… everyone moved aside… and I got preferential treatment…

The platform man told me in his broken Japanese that every station should hire more gaijin like me: “Youa may-ku moa-su-paysu.” He then smiled.

I have no idea what he said, but since he was so friendly, I wanted to make amuse him.

Since it had amused the Japanese women so much, I figured my number one phrase might also amuse the male station platform worker, so I pointed to my crotch and said “bigu-bigu”.

He smiled, and patted my rear end as the subway doors chimed and closed. He also gave me his business card.

While it is true that I firmly believe I have a tremendous understanding of how their society works, I still don't have a firm grip on the language... as such, I deigned not to call him.

Somewhere the Tokyo subway trains are easy to ride if you are a gaijin male.
Andrew Joseph
PS: Now… strangely enough, my former girlfriend Ashley used to report a similar experience to what Mike Rogers experienced when she traveled alone that one time.
PPS: Obviously this is satire. The image above is a computer rendered image of a gaijin on a train... at least I hope it is, because WTF is up with that beard?
PPPS: Truthfully, the one time I was trying to board a stuffed Tokyo a train and a station attendant was about to place his white gloved hands upon my person, he actually stopped and uttered a "Whoa!" as he realized I was a gaijin and then realized he should go and push someone else.
Being pushed in wouldn't have bothered me... but what bothered me was they he didn't. I do NOT believe it to be racism, rather I believe he was unsure how I, the foreigner, would react... the Japanese are used to be shoved in place... would I react badly? No... but he didn't know that. That's the glass half-full version I actually have.
And yes... Japanese people did not necessarily want to sit beside a gaijin on a train... but I think it's less about racism and more about the fact that we take up too much bloody room on a train seat. Though I'm betting there is a bit of racism involved amongst some people, because rose-colored glasses aside, I'm not naive.
PPPPS: I could speak a bit more Japanese than I let on in this article (not much more), but I knew enough than to point to myself and say bigu-bigu (big-big), though since it came to me easily enough when I wrote this, it would seem it is not as far beneath me as I thought.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Ken Okuyama And The Kode 0

It’s just not fair.

Good looks, immense talent and large part in designing the supercars known the world over.

Welcome to the world of Okuyama Kiyoyuki (奥山 清行, surname first), better known as the chief executive officer and industrial design of Ken Okuyama Design… yes, he’s known as Ken… which I thought would be short for Kenichi, but it doesn't appear to be the case…

Born in Yamagata-ken, Japan in 1959, Okuyama attended Pasadena, California’s ArtCenter College of Design, and worked as a chief designer for General Motors, a senior designer for Porsche AG, and as a design director for Pininfarina S.p.A.

Have you ever seen a Ferrari Enzo or a Maserati Quattroporte? Those are Okuyama’s designs.

Nowadays, his Ken Okuyama Design company, founded in 2007, is a consultancy company producing such things as robots, architecture, eyewear products, motorcycles, and of course automobiles. 

I probably should add that he also has designed shinkansen bullet trains (plural)

The company has an office in Tokyo called Aoyama Studio & Showroom, as well as a factory in Yamagata-shi, Yamagata-ken. On top of that, the company has an office in Los Angeles, California, and one in Torino, Italy.

This past week, Okuyama’s biz debuted its one-off Kode 0 supercar (see image at the very top) at The Quail, motorsports event in Monterey, California. 

My first thought, was that its wedge-shaped body looked like it was ripped right out of the 1970s—and it was!

However, while the wedge-shape is reminiscent of those supercars from the 1960s thru 1980s, the Kode 0 is actually based upon the Lamborghini Aventador.

Typical of a supercar, the Kode 0 and has a carbon fiber frame, but comes equipped with a V12 engine that pushes out close to 700 horsepower, a number staggering enough that I can’t even imagine it after driving my non-penis-enlarging Nissan Micra SV and its 109 horsepower. Yes, I am a confident guy, I think… er, I mean I think I am a confident guy.

About its Kode 0 supercar, the Ken Okuyama Design company says that “In the early 1970s, humankind was filled with dreams. It was a time when legendary designer Marcello Gandini and famed carrozzeria craftsmen penned masterpieces like the Lancia Stratos Zero, Lamborghini Countach and Ferrari Moduro.

“The Kode 0 concept revives those dream car proportions of yesteryear using modern-day technologies,” it adds.

I have no idea what any of that means.

Other features of the Kode 0 include:
  • a triangular-shaped exhaust outlet;
  • metallic green-painted cooling fans;
  • a green-painted engine cover and green-painted interior accents.
But on to the important question. If you were the son of an oil sheik, how much money would your father have to pay for the honor of presenting you with such a gift?

None of your damn business of Sheikh Yerbootie. As a one-off, the Ken Okuyama Design company did not reveal a price tag, which even I know makes you want it even more.

It’s the classic: If you have to ask how much, you can’t afford it.

However, for reference, other similar automobiles designed by Okuyama have sold in the seven-figure area… so $1-million and up.

I’m guessing up.

In 2016, Okuyama unveiled a 611 horsepower and 448 pound-feet of torque, 6-liter V-12 Kode 57 Pinafarina roadster supercar… by the way… Kode (is no pronounced the Japanese way of Co-day, but rather as in “code”… as in I have a stuffy nose cause by my code.

The Kode 57 (see below) is highly reminiscent of a Hot Wheels car I bought as kid, and still have somewhere in box in my basement.

The Okuyama Kode 57 (left) and the Kode 0 (right)/ 
That car holds a six-speed semi-automatic transmission… but the car is also available with a Novitec engine upgrade that will take it to 692 horsepower and 473 lb-ft torque.

As for the Kode 0, it does have a lightweight carbon fiber body that contributes to its airy 3,417-pound weight… and that’s actually impressive… because that Lamborghini Aventador it was based upon is 600 pounds heavier than the Kode 0.

While I am unsure just why the company thought that noting the green paint was such an interesting feature… we all want to know how fast the damn thing is, even though few people on the planet will ever dare drive a car at that speed if they had the opportunity.

 I’m not sure just why the company thought that noting the green paint was such an interesting feature… I would have thought revealing what’s its top speed was.

As such… they didn’t give us the top speed, but did offer this nugget after testing the vehicle… it is capable of 0-60 miles per hour in 2.9 seconds…. which is fast enough to push one’s testicles up and into one’s sphincter… which while I’m sure some people might think that is enjoyable, I’m pretty sure it’s not… meaning you better wear some pretty good underwear if you are going to strap yourself in.

Its not even within the realm of fastest 0-60 nut movers… for example, a 2002 Chevrolet Corvette (Lingenfelter 427 Twin Turbo) 0-60 mph in 1.97 seconds… and that’s the fourth-fastest on the list… but what the hell… you are driving a one-off Okuyama Aventador-inspired car… you don’t have to race it… you just have to look good in it.

Looking fine in my Micra SV, I think,
Andrew Joseph
PS: Did you that the apple-pie loving Chevrolet - America's car - was named after a Swiss racer?

Monday, August 21, 2017

A Field Of Dreams

I know... not an AJ original headline... but earlier on Sunday, I was afforded an opportunity to sit back and watch a bunch of 11-13-year-old kids play a baseball game.

I have spent January thru mid-August coaching baseball, and while enjoyable, I found it quite taxing.

Baseball has long been my second or even third favorite sport, with hockey and boxing jockeying for top spot. When Ali was the greatest, it was boxing.

Now... I admit that hockey is it for me thanks to the non-stop action (like boxing). Baseball, I enjoyed playing sandlot ball with friends at school and after school and never played in a league, even though MLB's Joey Votto came from my home town and played in the same league I now coach in.

Baseball is a think-man's game... lots of strategy, lots of statistics and odd bouts of action. That's the allure. It should also be fun at all times.

If it ain't fun for everyone involved, what's the point? While some would argue that yelling at kids is okay as long as they win because winning is fun, I disagree... which may explain why my team was a bunch of lovable losers who handled losing well and enjoyed their few victories with surprise and respect knowing what the opposition had just suffered.

Since becoming more of an adult since going to Japan, I learned that without question the Japanese seem to have a single-minded focus about them when it comes to doing something and doing it well.

Yes... I once wrote here about how Japanese Little League teams (11-13-year-olds) practice for 20 hours over a Saturday and Sunday lamenting as well as being grateful I only had a two-hour practice... but watching Japan at the Little League World Series tournament in the U.S. - on television, I should add - was a joy.

Through a nail biting 6-inning complete game by the Japanese boy, Japan beat the other Asia-Pacific representative, South Korea 4-1... in a well-played game.

At the end of it all, it was gratifying to see the two teams (like in all the youth baseball leagues) line up and slap the other team's hand for a good game (and believe me, my team didn't have a lot of good games), and then turn to the fans in the stands and give each side a bow of respect.

The smiles on everyone's faces was wonderful... like they were also just happy to be playing the game and having fun.

Don't get me wrong, I sorely believe that the coaches on both teams probably did a lot of yelling at the ball players during the year... and maybe at the higher levels such treatment is warranted... but I knew the type of team I had... a developmental team made up of kids who weren't quite good enough for the A team of Select. Keep in mind that above House League is Select, then A, AA, and AAA ball and god help me there might be other higher divisions.

Baseball is a game... a game played initially by kids and then adults... and I find myself cheering on the adults who still manage to have fun playing the game at all its levels.

I hope in another 10 years to see if any of these kids on the Korean or Japanese teams get to play professionally, and see if the fun has been sucked out of them, or if they are still just kids playing a game they enjoy.

Andrew Joseph
PS: Image above is of 2017 Japan representatives Toyota Kitasuna, a team that has twice previously won the Little League World Series, hoping for a third this year. 


Sunday, August 20, 2017

Japan Backs India Over Chinese Aggression In Bhutan

I love that headline. Until just now, I had never cared to know just where Bhutan was on a map—though I had an idea. I was wrong.

Have you ever heard of Doklam? How about Dongland? Me either.

It’s a part of the world that sits on the Border of both India and China, and while China says there is no dispute, India feels there is one.

Doklam is what India calls it, and buddha help me Dongland is what China calls it.

Whatever it’s called, it’s an area with a plateau and a valley and it lies between Tibet’s Chumbi Valley in the north, Bhutan’s Ha Valley in the east, and India’s Sikkaim state in the west.

Tibet was overrun by China a few decades earlier as the rest of the world just kindda sat on its own thumb and spun.

Apparently China/Tibet, Bhutan, and India all feel the area is of much importance.

I don’t know who it belongs too, but mapmakers have been noting the area is under Bhutan jurisdiction since 1961… and while China has laid claim on the area, India has not.

I suppose it has simply taken up arms to help Bhutan out against big, bad China.

So… while China says there’s nothing to see here… no “dispute”, the boundary dispute was enough for Japan to vocally support India in the matter… which has now caused China to be snippy with the land of the rising sun.

(By the way… the semantics of it all is quite amusing.  It was like how the United States had always said it had never lost a war… and so when it became obvious that it had lost the Vietnam War, it began calling it the Vietnam Conflict. Semantics… but at least it is still tru about teh U.S. having never lost a war.) 

Since June of this year (2017) China and India have been at odds over the Doklam area… with India having moved troops into the area, and China asking india to move them out.

China says that if there is to be any further talkas to resolve the issue, the Inid a troops must be removed.

Which is interesting in itself, because China foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying (surname first) has stated:

“In the Donglang (Doklam) area, there is no territorial dispute. And the boundary has been delimited and recognized by the two sides. … And the attempt to change the status quo by trespass in the boundary is by India, not China."

So is there a territorial dispute or not? China says there isn’t so get off amy lawn, while India says there is and has gathered the local kids to occupy that lemon tree that site directly in the middle of teh disputed gang landscape.

Stoopid kids.

And along comes Japan envoy Hiramatsu Kenji (surname first) who acknowledges that the Doklam area is being disputed by both China and India, and that Tokyo understands why India became involved.

"For both India and Japan, China is an important neighboring country. Both countries have important economic linkages with China. However, after the recent Chinese provocative actions, entire international community will have to send a message to China,”says Hiramatsu.

Hmmm… Japan calls China’s actions ‘provocative’… it’s not overly overt, but it implies that Japan gets why India has to do something about China’s claims on Doklam.  

That’s like Japan saying: “Hey, India… while we love the Chinese culture we sto-, er borrowed for ourselves, we REALLY love that An-do-ryu guy you sent us 27 years ago to teach us how to all get along with the world… so we’re going to side with India over China in a non-dispute that has absolutely nothing to do with us, because we are whiny buggers who once tried to make all of Asia our bitches.”

Okay - so maybe I wasn’t the reason Japan stuck it’s nose in the business between China and India. But what was the reason?

First off, Japan is not the first nation to throw it’s support behind India in the territory dispute. The U.S. and the U.K. had previously done so… only the Japanese support was made to seem like Japan was really more into supporting India than the other two great nations had been.

 How nasty are things between China and India? Well… China had previously mocked India over the Doklam dispute by saying that India should learn from the 1962 military debacle when the two countries fought each other in a war.

This past June, India defence minister Arun Jaitley responded with: “India of 2017 is different from India of 1962.”

So… why did Japan feel the need to toss in its two yen’s worth? Was it because Japan is the toady of the U.S., and needs to kiss its butt should things escalate further with North Korea’s finger on a nuclear missile or two? Maybe.

But didn’t Japan want China to talk with North Korea about that to try and further diffuse the situation?  Yeah… I no longer see China working hard to convince China to stop being a putz to western allies…

Well… you know those southwest island disputes between China and Japan… the Ryuku’s?

Well, back in 2014 Japan asked India for its help in thwarting what it felt were Chinese expansionist moves in the East China Sea, and the Himalayas.

So it’s a quid pro quo kindda thing. That’s where a favors given with the expectations of something the favor to be returned later.

Back in 2014, Chinese jets and ships were routinely invading what Japan called Japanese territories in a game of cat-and-mouse.

At that time in 2014, Japan defence minister Onodera Itsunori (surname first) said that: "Both Japan and India should ask for a dialogue with Chinese side and tell China not to change status quo by force. These issues should be solved through dialogue and following international rules."

In 2012, China and India had come to a resolution over the Doklam area… and so in now in 2017 India reiterates that China should respect the 2012 accord whereby no country would alter the status quo unilaterally in the eastern sector of the India-China border.

Holy crap, people… does it seem that in the past 20 years the world has sudden;t got more stupid?

We had just town down the wall dividing German. The Soviet Union said I want a huge television, too. The war to end al wars was over. Japan’s bubble economy had burst but it still had zero affect on Andrew’s final years on the JET Programme as he still enjoyed living in what was then a sexually-liberal Japanese society.

And then… someone dropped a stupid bomb.

The 9/11 attacks. The ongoing search for weapons of mass destruction and Bigfoot. More terror attacks. Presidents not being presidential. Japan wanted to get rid of its peaceful US-written Constitution as a means to building up its own military in a way similar to (I said similar) to 1930s and mid 40’s Japan level).

The world has certainly become more stupid lately… cripes… and now you know that China is trying to flex its muscles against India. Which involves Japan now…

Can’t we all just get along?

No… no… I suppose we can’t. At least that’s what this generation is showing.

It’s not my generation, is it?

Anyhow… now you know about Doklam… someplace else to keep an eye out for.

Talkin’ ‘bout my g-g-g-generation,
Andrew Joseph


Saturday, August 19, 2017

Surnames For Houses?

I have no idea if this is just a one off, or even if this is something that is in Japan... but here's a photo showing the name of the family in the house - as opposed to a house number. 

I realize that "Tanaka" is a Japanese name, but that doesn't mean this photo can't be from another country like Australia, for example.
In the past, a family surname would denote what clan you were from, and could mean the difference between friend or foe.

People in Japan often refer to themselves first by their surname (family name): "Watashi-wa Tanaka-desu"... which translates to "I am Tanaka."

That sorta stuff doesn't work with me, seeing as how my surname also easily translates to a first name... but I do like the idea of a surname being used in place of a house number.

I doubt something like this would ever catch on, however.

Without even going into the privacy issues most societies have, in Japan, there sure are a lot of Tanaka's. And Suzuki's... Holy crap, Suzuki is the western equivalent of Smith and/or Jones, or the Chinese Lee.

It's bad enough in a small village of say 20,000 people in Japan where there could easily be 100 people with the surname of Tanaka (for example)... cut add in the fact that in many a place outside of the larger cities, street signs denoting what street, road or avenue you are approaching are not in use.

The streets HAVE names... it's just not denoted as such (usually) with a marker like a street sign.

Imagine being a postal worker having to deliver mail.

"Let's see... I have to deliver this letter to Ryoichi Tanaka at 47 Ishidori Street in Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken.

"Hmmm... there's a postal code of 327... so I know it's in THIS part of Ohtawara... I really wish I had memorized all of those streets on the map they give us during our initiation... okay... Ishidori Street is a couple of roads over from the post office... good... now thank goodness houses have street numbers on them... waitamninute... they don't anymore....

"They have family names on them... now which Tanaka house is it... is this one? Or maybe it's the one across the street... or the one further down the street... or the one further down the street across the street...  this job sucks."

And that's why having a family surname on a house instead of a house number will never catch on in Japan.

By the way... just by looking at the finish on the wood panels of the house, we know that this is not your common ordinary house in Japan. That is a spectacular finish...

Unlike this blog,
Andrew Joseph

Friday, August 18, 2017

Tokyo's Triangle House

Here’s an article that originally appeared in the architectural website magazine HOUZ (, written by Kawakami Junko with photography by Tanigawa Hiroshi  (both surname first).

The article is about a tiny house built in the shape of a wedge or triangle, set in the sprawl of Tokyo.

I think it's a very cool house. It was designed by Japanese architect Mizuishi Kota of Miszushi Architect Atelier ( with structural design created by Ken Nagasaki Engineering Network ( 

I have an eye for architecture.

It doesn't mean I know a damn thing about architecture—because I don't. However, my eye does know what I like.

What's cool about it, is that it has a building footprint of a mere 29.1 square meters

If you click on the blue link below, it will take you to the website to read the well-written article.

If you click on the image below, you will be taken to a gallery of the photos of the triangle house.

Andrew Joseph

Thursday, August 17, 2017

All's Quiet On The Eastern Front

With North Korea daring anyone to call it a wet kitty cat, Japan has decided to play nice-nice realizing that the communist country also possesses a retaliatory power of having an itchy trigger finger pointed upwards at Guam.

It's subtle... but on the anniversary of Japan's unofficially surrender to end WWII, no Japanese politician visited the controversial Yasakune Shrine in Tokyo.

The Shrine has a dedicated area to veterans to wars, and while there's nothing wrong with that, per se, the temple shrine's memorial houses memorials to a fair number of Japanese soldiers who were not only accused of war crimes during WWII, but were actually convicted of war crimes.

So... whenever a Japanese politician goes and prays to anyone or generally at the shrine, the former enemies of Japan stand up and criticize the politician and eh country of being insensitive louts.

Some of you might say - come on... it's been 70 bloody years... enough already with picking on poor Japan for being a bunch of dicks during WWII.

Sure... you could say that.

But obviously the recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. show that just because the U.S. Civil War ended some 150 years ago, people are still pretty touchy about those statues of Confederate war veterans (not to mention that whole neo-nazi, white supremacist stuff that you hopefully have read in other legit and fake news media).

Anyhow... since North Korea is willing to go nuclear on Guam... and the United States and Japan want North Korea ally China to try and talk North Korea out of doing anything "crazy"... Japan is playing nice-nice and not causing any troubles over any just-for-political-show.

Japan doesn't want to upset North Korea, South Korea or China with any prayer to any war criminals.

There are other countries who would be upset at Japan if it did that, but for our nuclear detente purposes those three countries will suffice.

Andrew Joseph
PS: Image found at  


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Uh, What About Dana/Guam?

On Tuesday, August 15, Japanese prime minister Abe Shinzo (surname first) and U.S. president Donald Trump agreed that they would continue to cooperate with each other to strongly urge North Korea allies China and Russia (okay… allies is incorrect… they are more likely to work with North Korea than any other country) to NOT continue on with that country’s threat to launch nuclear missiles at Guam.

Trump and Abe also agreed on mutual cooperation to deal with a possible North Korean missile launch that might travel over Japan toward waters off Guam.

Uh… but what about Guam?

Guam is fugged. Most people on the planet have no idea where Guam is, so who cares, right? Can I get a far right?    

“It’s not near me, so screw them foreigners.”

Uh, those foreigners are American citizens.

If things are confusing, let me muddy the waters by giving you a teenager girl version from the 1970s…  because I think girls talked normally then.

What About Dana? 

  • US: Michelle
  • Japan: Lisa
  • North Korea: Jeanie
  • China: Monica
  • Russia: Rachel
  • South Korea: Hortense
  • Guam: Dana
  • Canada: Porsche
  • India: Pippa
  • special guest: Alana, as the Israel.

In last weeks episode:
Lisa and Michelle aren’t talking to Jeanie, so Lisa and Michelle tell Monica and Rachel to tell Jeanie that she’s a bitch and that they hate her, and that if Jeanie continues to talk smack about Lisa and Michelle’s friend Dana, they will tell everyone that Jeanie once slept with Brad. 



"We should take out North Korea, I mean Jeanie, before she… uh… Hey Lisa, what good is Jeanie to us?"

"Well, Michelle, Jeanie can get us some good kimchi, she has those crappy Hyundai cars… oh… and I hear they give Convenience?"

"Actually, Jeanie doesn’t give us any of those things, so yeah… no biggie… but Jeanie’s twin sister Hortense, I mean South Korea… they are kindda like in the way… if you hit Jeanie, Hortense is going to feel it, too!"

"Shut up Porsche! Nobody cares what you think! Besides… who cares if Hortense gets taken out… it’s Hortense."

"Uh… they give us the kimchi, Hyundai’s and Convenience."

"Shut up Porsche! We can get Convenience from Pippa, right."

"Uh… yeah?"

"That was rhetorical, Porsche! Shut-up! Screw Hortense!"

"Well, Michelle... besides the fallout of Hortense from beating up Jeanie, there’s also the fact that there will be some sort of fallout with Monica."

"Ooooh… Monica kindda scares me. Yeah… she’s smart and hot and all that, but when she gets wound up, she’s one tough bitch."

"Are you still here, Porsche? Hey Lisa... how could taking out Jeanie affect Monica?"

"Oh Michelle, you crack me up! Well… most of the products you have in your house were made by people working under China… I mean  Monica. Plus…. who knows… that might also have an affect on the Jews."

"The Jews… who’s that?"

"Uh… Alana? Sure… Alana."

"How will this affect the Alana?"

"Well, if Jeanie takes out Dana because Monica and Rachel are too stupid to do what they are told, and then if you and I—Michelle and Lisa—retaliate and take out Jeanie, the fallout will not only hit Hortense, but it will also hit Monica… it could mean that all those restaurants owned by Monica could be affected… which would tick off the Alana."

"So what? Who cares about what ticks off the Alana?"

"Yeah… where is the writer going with this? Was that just s stupid joke about Jews liking Chinese food? And Koreans and convenience stores?"

"That's so racist!"

"It's okay, it's the 1970s!"

"And who the heck is Brad?"

Tune in next week when Jeanie gets asked on a date by time-traveling special guest Dennis Rodman. Will she shave up to her knees or all the way up? Tune in next week to find out. 

Shut-up Porsche,
Andrew Joseph
PS: Jeanie might do kimchi, but she’s better known for putting coal in Monica’s stocking, if you know what I mean…. some US$1-billion-worth in 2015 alone.
PPS: I have had a huuuuge crush on Dana Delaney since I first saw her on Magnum PI. The photo below is her in he TV show China Beach... which is just a coincidence... or would have been had she got the role of China: