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Saturday, September 30, 2017

Allied Nicknames For WWII Japanese Aircraft

It might seem sexist nowadays, but men have been naming their hurricanes and vehicles after women since time amoral.

While hurricanes and the Asian equivalent typhoons now alternate the gender naming rights of tropical storms and hurricanes—each western and eastern hemisphere separately, coming up with names in alphabetical order, I had thought—mistakenly—that it was just a western thing to call our car “Girl” or “She”.

I grew up with that, and aside from calling one or two clunkers a female dog slang term as well as the term for a male offspring of an unmarried couple, I have never thought to calling my car as though it was a woman I entered and pushed around with my hands upon her yoke, foot upon her driving her hard… I’ve just seen it as a car I could drive.

The same goes for ships and aircraft—specifically as nicknames for vehicles during various war times.

I have nothing against it, to be honest. I never thought about it.

During WWII, for example, crews of an airplane might place a nickname upon their aircraft, someone might paint an image of said nickname - and that would be it.

Sometimes Disney cartoon images might be used—I have a magazine advert showing the Big Bad Wolf was used as a squadron’s insignia.

I think I’ve seen Betty Grable showing off a lot of leg painted under the pilot’s window of an aircraft.

As an aircraft buff, I know that airplanes have had nicknames—from the earliest of days through now: P-51 Mustang; F-22 Raptor, etc.

What I didn’t know, was that during WWII, the Americans had nicknames for Japan’s military aircraft, providing them with westernized names.

And... surprise-surprise, the names picked weren't just female names!

For example… Japan’s Kawanishi (company) E7K Navy Type 94 reconnaissance seaplane was known by the Allies simply as Alf.

Why not. By the time some look out managed to say: “There’s a squadron of Kawanishi E7K Navy Type 94 reconnaissance seaplanes approaching from out of the sun in the east” one’s ship would already be fired upon.

“There’s a squadron of Alf’s approaching from out of the sun in the east.”  Much easier to say, and quicker to react to.

Only one Japanese aircraft was given a Japanese nickname: the Yokosuka MXY7 navy suicide attack plane known as Ohka.

“Suicide? That’s Baka!”

Baka is the Japanese word meaning “stupid”. The individual Kanji that make up the word baka are: ba = horse and ka = deer. Maybe the combined horse deer is stupid. Pronounce it backwards a la ka-ba, and you get hippopotamus.

Other interesting points, are the fact that training planes were named after a type of tree...

Topsy, Tabby and Buzzard are also odd.

Most interesting to me, however, are how the names  - actual names - chosen were, in the 1940s, common names for women... and now... well... you can see how out-dated some of the names are.

Nickname Aircraft Plane Type
Abdul Nakajina Ki-27 Army Type 97 fighter
Art Kawanishi E7K Navy Type 94 reconnaissance seaplane
Ann Mitsubishu Ki-30 Army Type 97 light bomber
Babs Mitsubishi C5M Navy Type 98 reconnaissance aircraft
Babs aka Norma Mitsubishi Ki-15 Army Type 97 command reconnaissance aircraft
Baka Yokosuka MXY7 Navy suicide attack plane
Belle Kawanishi H3K Navy Type 90-2 flying boat
Bess Heinkel He 111 Army Type 98 medium bomber
Betty Mitsubishi G4M Navy Type 1 land-based attack aircraft
Bob Nakajima E2N Navy Type 15 reconnaissance floatplane
Buzzard Kokusai Ki-105 Otori Army transport plane
Cedar Tachikawa Ki-17    Army Type 95-3 basic grade trainer
Cherry Yokosuka H5Y Navy Type 99 flying boat
Clara Tachikawa Ki-70 Army reconnaissance plane
Claude Mitsubishi A5M Navy Type 96 carrier based fighter
Clint Nakajima Ki-27 Army Type 97 fighter
Cypress Kokusai Ki-86 Army Type 4 primary trainer
Cypress Kyushu K9W Navy Type 2 primary trainer
Dave Nakajima E8N Navy Type 95 reconnaissance seaplane
Dick Seversky A8V Navy Type S two-seat fighter
Dinah Mitsubishi Ki-46 Army Type 100 command reconnaissance aircraft
Edna Mansyu Ki-71 Army Type 99 assault aircraft
Emily Kawanishi H8K Navy Type 2 large flying boat
Eva/Eve Mitsubishi Ohtori Army Type 93 twin-engine light bomber
Fran/Frances Yokosuka P1Y Navy land-based bomber
Frank Nakajima Ki-84 Army Type 4 fighter
Gander Kokusai Ku-8 Army Type 4 special transport glider
George Kawanishi N1K-J Navy interceptor fighter
Glen Yokosuka E14Y Navy Type 0 small reconnaissance seaplane
Goose Kokusai Ku-8 Army Type 4 special transport glider
Grace Aichi B7A Navy carrier attack bomber
Gwen Mitsubishi Ki-21-IIb Army Type 0 medium bomber
Hap Mitsubishi A6M3    Navy Type 0 carrier fighter model 32
Hank Aichi E10A Navy Type 96 night reconnaissance seaplane
Helen Nakajima Ki-49 Army Type 100 heavy bomber
Hickory Tachikawa Ki-54    Army Type 1 trainer
Ida Tachikawa Ki-36 Army Type 98 direct co-operation aircraft
Ida Tachikawa Ki-55 Army Type 99 advanced trainer
Irving Nakajima J1N Navy Type 2 land reconnaissance aircraft
Jack Mitsubishi J2M Navy interceptor fighter
Jake Aichi E13A Navy Type 0 reconnaissance seaplane
Jane Mitsubishi Ki-21 Army Type 97 heavy bomber
Jean Yokosuka B4Y Navy Type 96 carrier attack bomber
Jerry Heinkel A7He Navy Type He interceptor fighter
Jill Nakajima B6N Navy carrier attack bomber
Judy Yokosuka D4Y Navy Type 2 carrier reconnaissance aircraft
Julia Kawasaki Ki-48 Army Type 97 heavy bomber
Kate Nakajima B5N Navy Type 97-1 carrier attack bomber
Laura Aichi E11A Navy Type 98 reconnaissance seaplane
Lily Kawasaki Ki-48 Army Type 99 twin-engine light bomber
Liz Nakajima G5N Navy Experimental 13-Shi attack bomber
Lorna Kyushu Q1W Navy Patrol Aircraft
Louise Mitsubishi Ki-2-II Army Type 93-2 twin-engine light bomber
Luke Mitsubishi J4M Navy Experimental 17-Shi interceptor
Mary Kawasaki Ki-32 Army Type 98 single-engine light bomber
Mabel Mitsubishi B5M Navy Type 97-2 carrier attack bomber
Mavis Kawanishi H6K Navy Type 97 large flying boat
Mike Kawasaki Ki-61
and Bf 109
Army Type 3 Fighter
Millie Vultee V-11GB Type 98 Showa light bomber
Myrt/Myrtle Nakajima C6N Navy carrier reconnaissance aircraft
Nate Nakajima Ki-27 Army Type 97 fighter
Nell Mitsubishi G3M Navy Type 96 attack bomber
Nick Kawasaki Ki-45 Army Type 2 two-seat fighter
Norm Kawanishi E15K Navy Type 2 high-speed reconnaissance seaplane
Norma Mitsubishi Ki-15 Army Type 97 command reconnaissance aircraft
Norm (again) Mitsubishi C5M Navy Type 98 reconnaissance aircraft
Oak Kyushu K10W Navy Type 2 intermediate trainer
Oscar Nakajima Ki-43 Army Type 1 fighter
Pat       Tachikawa Ki-74        Army fighter
Patsy Tachikawa Ki-74        Army reconnaissance bomber
Paul Aichi E16A Navy reconnaissance seaplane
Peggy Mitsubishi Ki-67 Army Type 4 heavy bomber
Perry Kawasaki Ki-10        Army Type 95 fighter
Pete Mitsubishi F1M Navy Type 0 observation seaplane
Pine Mitsubishi K3M Navy Type 90 crew trainer
Randy Kawasaki Ki-102    Army Type 4 assault aircraft
Rex Kawanishi N1K Navy fighter seaplane
Rita Nakajima G8N Navy Type 18 land-based attack aircraft
Rufus Nakajima A6M2-N    Navy Type 2 interceptor/fighter-bomber
Ruth Fiat BR.20 Army Type I heavy bomber
Sally Mitsubishi Ki-21 Army Type 97 heavy bomber
Sam Mitsubishi A7M Navy experimental carrier fighter
Slim Watanabe E9W Navy Type 96 small reconnaissance seaplane
Sonia Mitsubishi Ki-51 Army Type 99 assault aircraft
Spruce Tachikawa Ki-9 Army Type 95-1 intermediate trainer
Stella Kokusai Ki-76 Army Type 3 command liaison aircraft
Susie Aichi D1A Navy Type 94/96 carrier bomber
Tabby Douglas DC-3/
Showa/Nakajima L2D
Navy Type 0 transport
Tess Douglas DC-2 Navy transport
Thalia Kawasaki Ki-56 Army Type 1 freight transport   
Thelma Lockheed Model 14 Army Type LO transport
Theresa Kokusai Ki-59 Army Type 1 transport   
Thora Nakajima Ki-34 Army Type 97 transport
Tina Yokosuka L3Y Navy Type 96 transport
Tojo Nakajima Ki-44 Army Type 2 single-seat fighter
Tony Kawasaki Ki-61 Army Type 3 fighter
Topsy Mitsubishi Ki-57 Army Type 100 transport
Val Aichi D3A Navy Type 99 dive bomber
Willow Yokosuka K5Y Navy Type 93 intermediate trainer
Zeke or Zero Mitsubishi A6M Navy Type 0 carrier fighter

The careful reader will have noted and wondered about why there are American airplanes in the list. Even a Fiat. Is it an error?

No. And it’s nothing nefarious, either.

It is possible that the Fiat, was purchased at such a time when Italy was an ally with Japan 9and Germany) as part of the Axis, or more than likely, Japan was using a Fiat for the same reason it had been using American aircraft.

Prior to its attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan was a viable trading partner to the U.S. In fact, during WWI, Japan was an ally with the US et al in their battles against der kaiser and Germany.

During the 1930s, Japan legally purchased aircraft from Seversky, Douglas and Lockheed for non-military purposes, and during WWII re-purposed them for military use.

The thing that took the longest to do, was to find computer code that would allow me to create chart-like separation for

Oh well... what to do for tomorrow? Oh... I know, I know.

Andrew Joseph
PS: Image at top from

Friday, September 29, 2017

Blog Tripping: Screwed Or Not Screwed - That Is The Question

I still have an interesting blog coming out at midnight EST, but until then, I have hand-picked a well-written blog for you... a blast from the past, that describes exactly what life in Japan was like for me the last few months of my three year stay on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme.

I jazzed it up a wee bit at the very end, with PS's et al, and added a music video, but aside from two typos, now fixed, it is exactly as it first appeared only two years earlier in March 12,2015.

My writing had improved tremendously from when I first began... or maybe I was simply think clearly that day... and my usual stream of consciousness writing was flowing, rather than ebbing.

Everyone can have a bad day - especially writers - but March 12, 2015 was a particularly good, and inventive one.

Prepare to be transported back in time to 2015 and again to July of 1993 - HERE.

Andrew Joseph
PS: It's true... never was my writing so fresh as when I wrote about what was going on in my head in Japan... and when I wrote about Noboko and myself. I've said it many a time, however... every time I forced myself to write about that period in my life, I'm forced to revisit all of the pain and anguish and happiness and love... the usual duality of what life in Japan was like for me in 1990-1993 and beyond. Duality is what the whole blog seems to be about. I didn't really realize that when I first began in 2009, nor when I wrote the original content in 2015... but is something I finally figured out now, in 2017. That's the problem with writing stream of consciousness and writing every single day... there's little time to ponder what it all means, or rather, what it all meant. It's all just a story... my story... as I'm sure Noboko's was different, no matter how much I pretend to understood what she was thinking or going through.
PPPS: With age, comes wisdom. That sucks on so many levels, my friends. It sucks big time. 

Yer Blues - A Slight Re-Write Of An Old Blog

Noriko, in the black sweater, is beside the woman with the striped dress.
Originally published on March 9, 2011, I decided to re-read this article... and found too many grammar and spelling errors... It was a crappy time in my life, and then two days later I would have to say I was luckier than most people on the northeast coast of Japan when a 9.0 earthquake caused a massive tsunami killing 10s of thousands of people.

The article, however, is a fine example of how Japan was a wonderful life rife with the good, the bad and the ugly.

My whole point of writing these blogs was always to show multiple points of view... Japan versus me, the foreigner, and how we were always the same, but different. Now, with the rewrite, it's about how I am the same but different.

I'm still not thrilled with it - but I felt I had to retain much of whom I was six years ago when I wrote this... 

On with the blog:

So... what's like being a woman in Japan? How the heck would I know? I'm a man and I treated the country like it was my own private Disneyland going on as many rides as possible - some more than once, always more than once.

Now, despite that rather bold pronouncement, I didn't take advantage of anyone. Well, I did for sex, but in 100% of the times, it was mutual. There were bragging rights for me, just as it was for every Japanese woman to know that they had slept with me or any other foreigner.

Okay... I'm just guessing about what drew all of those women to me. As far as the foreign women went, I was one of the few non-Japanese guys who wanted to sleep with them - and was at least taller than the Japanese guys who did want to sleep with them.

But I'm getting off... topic, that is. I wanted to introduce you to my superb Japanese girlfriend Noboko Kikuchi who worked along side me at Nozaki Chu Gakko (Nozaki Junior High School) in Ohtawara-shi (City of Ohtawara), Tochigi-ken (Tochigi Prefecture), Japan while I taught as an Assistant English Teacher on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme.

As well, I'd like to introduce you to Noriko Ishihara, a beautiful woman who worked alongside of me at Nozaki Chu... hmm... just add the remainder of the previous sentence to here.

I never slept with Noriko... though I suppose I did want to. She was tall - maybe 5'-8", sharp-tongue, highly intelligent, a great, soft-spoken English teacher who treated me very, very well. We were friends. It was her being transferred to Kaneda Minami Chu Gakko (Kaneda South Junior High School), that opened the door for Noboko to be hired on at Nozaki back in April of 1993.

I've told you and told you numerous times that Nozaki (No-Chu) was a fantastic school!

Briefly about Noboko. She's 5'-1" (maybe), delicate features, a sharp tongue and highly intelligent. She was a strong teacher - at least when I was with her  - and she was full of confidence. And, I loved her very much - enough for us to become engaged with each other. She was full of confidence with her students and with myself - but that would evaporate whenever her parents were involved.

I met her parents a few times. I always brought her mom flowers and her dad a very expensive bottle of whiskey. I would also bring flowers for Noboko. They cooked dinner for me - and we had a great time.

And here's why.

The folks did not speak a lick of English and everything was translated by Noboko for them. As such, they had no clue that Noboko and I were boyfriend/girlfriend or later were even engaged - despite the visible addition of jewelry on her fingers. Personally, I think they knew.

I wanted her to tell her parents about us - but she was afraid. Afraid they would want her to break it off with me.

Better a secret than having to lie, I suppose.

 I wanted Noboko to at least come with me to Toronto (when it was time for me to complete my three years on the JET Programme) and vacation there for a month - to see if she could handle me and the country - to see if we could be ourselves, together.

She couldn't do it, however, because she admitted had no idea how to tell her parents anything. She was daddy's little girl, and would do nothing to embarrass him.

Noboko and I - 1st meeting (yeesh)... I think my wife has hidden all of her photos! As you can tell from Noboko's positioning, she wanted nothing to do with me. No Japanese guy dressed in the colors I did, had a beard like mine, or (and you can't see it) had hair half-way down his back--except for Japanese television comedians... I'm sure all great guys, but not quite what Noboko had in mind... still... the first time I saw her - some 40 minutes before this photo was taken, I gasped as I sucked in my breath and could not take my eyes off her. My grin in the photo above, is 100% genuine... as is Noboko's grimace as she angles her body away from me as I lean slightly towards her.
Her dad was the head of the junior high school vice-principals in the northern area of Tochigi-ken - apparently that is a fairly important position in the Education sector.

Because of that position, it would have been an embarrassment to him if it ever came out that his beautiful daughter, Noboko, was dating me - a foreigner.

Because dating a foreign guy means the Japanese woman is having sex - which is incorrect, but in this case it was correct a couple of times a day. Sometimes even more.

Having one's daughter date a foreigner was a way for him to lose face.

It didn't matter that I was a great guy and that I had friends up and down the Education Ministry, and that teachers, students and parents liked and respected me.

It was the fact that I was despoiling his virgin daughter... and forgive me, but she wasn't a virgin when we met.

It was sad, but our relationship ended because she chose her father over me. And while I wish her much happiness with whomever took my place, I still feel cheated. To be honest, the rejection ticked me off - and still does... but I did understand. The better man had won. Dad.

Noriko - she was in love with a foreigner from New Zealand. They met when she traveled down there on vacation. He must have really swept her of her feet, because the romance continued over the telephone and mail for a couple of years.

Here was someone who actually killed two years of her life waiting for someone to come and visit her in Japan - but he never did. She didn't know how to tell her parents about John, and except for a couple of girlfriends, she had no one to confide in. Speaking to me in English so no one would understand, she explained about how in love she was, and asked what she should do about it.

I said that if the love is meant to be, it will find a way. But, that you should set a time limit - so as to not waste the rest of your life waiting for someone or something that may never happen.

She accepted that, and set an ultimatum for John, that sadly passed. You dumb bastard, John... you let a good one get away. Noriko tried, and you didn't.

Now... of course, all of this with Noriko and John happened BEFORE I met Noboko.

When I went home to Canada unable to convince Noboko to come and visit with me in Toronto, I made arrangements to fly back to Japan and stay with a friend and fellow AET Colin McKay of Calgary for a month at his place.

Noboko... she wasn't working that autumn, so that allowed us to spend every waking hour together...  sometimes three or four times a day until Colin would come home from teaching at the Kuroiso Boys High School (Kuroiso Dai Gakko).

Incidentally, Kuroiso-shi (City of Kuroiso) is where Noboko lived with her parents. She had moved out years ago, and lived in both Osaka and Tokyo, and came back to stay while she did the teaching gig at Nozaki.

Despite spending all her waking hours with me for that month, Noboko was studying for a civil service exam.

Anyhow, after the blissful month with Noboko passed and it was time for me to go home again - alone - I told her I wouldn't give up on her until I knew she had given up on me.

Trouble is, she wouldn't give up on me, despite her inability to tell her parents about our love or her inability to come and visit me.

She was scared.

What could she tell her parents? She was coming to visit me? Then everyone would know we were a couple!

People... I tried and tried to reason with Noboko for nearly a year after that re-visit... and after my mother passed away a year after later (the day before Noboko's birthday), I knew I had to release Noboko from my burden. We had to free each other.

I told her I loved her, but it was obvious that neither of us could live in the other's country forever.

It was heartbreaking, but I know we both were able to move on.

No regrets - at least I didn't, and was thankful for the time we had together. But I never truly got over the fact that she chose her father over me.

I dislike coming in second-best. It just means you didn't win.

Fortunately, I'm a good loser. Unfortunately, I have had a lot of practice to know that.

Somewhere wondering if John and Noboko regret not trying hard enough,
Andrew "The man with No Name" Joseph
PS: Today's title is by The Beatles. It's powerful. I love it. YOUKNOWTHEREASONWHY
PPS: The Man With No Name is the name of a Clint Eastwood western... and I toss it in NOW in 2017 because I made reference to another western flick of his: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly.
PPPS: I decided to edit and add to this blog, because well, quite frankly, I'm a far better writer in 2017 than I was in 2011. I'm still not satisfied with this teaser of an episode, which was also why in 2011, I was much more responsive to my own feelings in writing in far more depth about my relationship with Noboko... a whole year's worth of blogs.... that hurt me deeply every time I typed Noboko's name. I still feel crappy about my life six years later, though I also realize it's not so bad.It's neither good nor ugly. It should be more. That's what my lessons with Noboko taught me. That's what Japan taught me.
You can't get so high on yourself that something won't come along and kick you in the nuts. And... as bad as I sometimes still feel, reality slaps me in the face. And so I think of my buddy Tom H and his family... and realize it's just what it is.
It still doesn't make me feel any better, though.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Sexy Robot Woman Art

Sorayama Hajime (空山 基, surname first) is a Japanese artist best known for his detailed illustrations of women in what can best be described as “in sexy portrayals”.

As you can see from his version of Marilyn Monroe above.

It’s certainly not outside the realm of possibility that Marilyn actually posed in a similar fashion, after all, she was the very first Playmate of the Month in Playboy’s inaugural edition, as well as its cover back in December of 1953.

Marilyn was modest 5’-5” (165.1 cm) tall, with the scintillating 36-22-34-inch (91.4-55.88-88.36 cm) measurements, and was the blonde heir apparent to jet—black haired, blue-eyed glamor girl Bettie Page—36-23-35 inches (91.4-58.42-88.99 cm)—as far as male (and probably female) attention in the 1950s.

To me, it’s like Betty or Veronica, Ginger or Mary Anne.
Marilyn (left) is Marilyn (or Norma Jean), but I always loved Bettie's haircut and other attributes. Woof-woof! Image from
Born February 22, 1947 in Imabari-shi (Imabari City) in Ehime-ken (Ehime Prefecture), Sorayama is just like every single male illustrator I ever met.

As mentioned, he likes to draw erotic images of women. When I was writing comic books, my male artists friends would all clamor for me to include a female character just so they would have the opportunity to draw boobs.

I always resisted, of course. I love women and their various forms, but I preferred to create characters built on character, rather than on form.

I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way”, exclaimed the infamous Jessica Rabbit in the classic animated-live action movie from the 1980s, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Drawn bad or badly drawn—there is no doubt that when it comes to Sorayama, his women are drawn bad.

He is also known for his biomechanoid female robots, which he is MOST famous for. 

Sorayama says that his work “deals with the technical issue of how close one can get to one’s subject.”

It’s true.

If we got any closer to Marilyn, U.S. Secret Service agents would hop out of the woodwork to keep us, er, em, back from er, em, Marilyn.

Now… I swear this true, but me mentioning Playboy… well, back in high school Sorayama began doing pin-up illustrations inspired by the women in Playboy magazine.

Because he was influenced in 1965 by a book by Oda Makoto entitled Nademo Mite Yaro (I’ll go and see everything) about travels to through Europe and Asia, Sorayama became interested in Greece.

This caused him to enter the Christian school Shikoku Gakuin University (四国学院大学, Shikoku gakuin daigaku), a private university in Zentsūji, Kagawa, Japan where he wanted to study Ancient Greek and English Literature—I can only assume he never wanted to be employable.

Naturally, his Greek professor left the school before he arrived, and the university could not find an adequate replacement in time. He still attended, and founded his own magazine, Pink Journal

Students and teachers card little for his efforts, which may be why he transferred to Chuo Art School in Tokyo in 1967, for the express purpose of studying art.

Graduating in 1968, he began working at na advertising agency in Japan before going freelance as an illustrator in 1972.

Can you image the housewives he must have drawn for clients looking to see such mundane items as a refrigerator?

He says he drew his first robot back in 1978 after a friend wanted to use C-3PO from Star Wars in a Suntory whisky ad. Since he was concerned about copyright infringement, Sorayama came up with something else. 

Believe it or not, it was an image of a robot dog. Not sure if it was a "bitch"—the only time I am allowing myself to use the word in print—here in a non-swearing manner.

One year later in 1979, Sorayama drew his first sexy robot. And then another… and another.

I’m pretty sure that my very first exposure to Sorayama’s art was in December of 1980.

I was already heavily into collecting comic books, had just turned 16, and for at least a couple of years realized that it might be okay to still collect comic books if I also was using Playboy.

My little brother, Ben took down two slightly used copies of the February and March editions of Playboy out of my backpack to show my parents. Those were the Suzanne Sommers and Bo Derek issues, respectively.

Told by my cool parents to hide them better (I hid most between the pages of The Canadian Coin News newspaper in a drawer under my bed), I decided I would also expand my comic book and porn collecting into a mix of the two.

I began collecting black and white comic magazines (Hulk, and Conan), and the color adult fantasy comic books of Epic Illustrated and Heavy Metal.

I was slightly ahead of the curve, as the animated Heavy Metal movie with the mostly killer soundtrack didn’t appear in movie theaters until August of 1981.

In December of 1980, Sorayama got the cover of Heavy Metal:

And yet, can you believe it, despite getting the cover of Heavy metal magazine, he wasn’t famous yet.

Honestly, if I even noticed the cover, I didn't know Sorayama. Even as a teenager, I felt that covers like this were more about capitalizing on a fad. I just didn't know that the artist—Sorayama—created the fad. He has every right to capitalize on any fad he wants... certainly one he helped create.  

His first artbook Sexy Robot was published by Genko-sha in 1983 and THAT got him famous around the world… you know, if you were into sexy female robotic art.

The robots were all drawn in suggestive poses, as though real humans, like Marilyn at the top.

He continued to publish artbooks through the 1980s, as well as in monthly appearances in Penthouse (probably another place I saw his art)—and despite my acknowledgement that Playboy, Penthouse Hustler, Chic, High Society and Oui may have played an important role in my teenage and pre-Japan years—despite the many appearances of Sorayama’s work in such adult men’s magazines, I can honestly state that none of his sexy female robots ever caught my eye.

Honestly… the sexy, chrome looking female robot was never as good as the flesh appearance on paper… and thanks to Japan, real flesh.

The 2001 album cover of rock 'n' roll masters Aerosmith—the crappy album Just Push Play—was designed by Sorayama, and features, yes, you guessed it, a sexy female robot…. but this one in a pose made famous by Marilyn Monroe:

Oh, a poster of the album cover is shown in the title character's room in the Nickelodeon TV series Drake & Josh that appeared on air between 2004-2007. Sadly (or luckily) I have no idea what this show is about 

What is cool, is that a Sorayama illustration of a robot dog was used by Sony as the inspiration for its AIBO robot pet pooch, which first went on sale on May 11, 1999.

AIBO, which is Japanese for "pal" was a robot dog that Sony developed based on Sorayama's designs. It could react to its environment, was fully-trainable, and was supposed to be a doggy pal with artificial intelligence.  It was a commercial success.

Later Sorayama received the Grand Prize of Best Design Award—considered to be the top-such honor in Japan—for his AIBO design.

He continues to create his robot and sexy woman artwork.

Andrew "If you prick me, do I not leak?" Joseph

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Japanese Batman 1966 Movie Poster

I'm not exactly a man of few words.

Gal pal Alice could be beside me and simply be content to be beside me, whereas I always had/have the need to fill the so-called "dead air". McDonald's even has a commercial out now pointing out that very same dynamic in a male-female couple.

Anyhow... above is a Japanese movie poster for the awesome 1966 Batman movie - a continuation, if you will of the classic Batman live-action television show.

While it lacks Julie Newmar as Catwoman (meeee-ow!!! - it still has Lee Meriwether, who was on the TV show Barnaby Jones, and the 1955 Miss America winner - meeee-ow!!), the movie has two scenes in my mind that stand out as comedic classics:
  1. The shark trying to bit the dynamic duo until Bat Shark Repellent is pulled out of the always handy Batman Utility Belt - there's a bit(e) of it on the poster;
  2. "Some days you just can't get rid of a bomb." scene. Not sure what I mean?... Click HERE.;
If you have no idea what I am talking about, I URGE you to find a copy of the movie and get ready to laugh your butt off with the sheer comedic genus of Burt Ward and Adam West (Robin and Batman).

Hmm... still more words than I thought I would expel. Sorry.

Andrew Joseph

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Ueno Zoo’s New Baby Panda Named Shan Shan

A three-month-old giant panda born at Ueno Zoo in Tokyo has been officially named Xiang Xiang, which translates to “Fragrance” in English and “Shan Shan” in Japanese.

I’ve never smelled a panda before, so maybe this is a thing. The only Panda I know, is Po…. pronounced poh, and not poo… which would make sense if we are talking about fragrance and pandas.

Again… I have no idea if panda’s smell.

Zookeeper: My panda has no nose. 
Visitor: How does he smell? 
Zookeeper: Awful.

With apologies to Monty Python

My only frame of reference is Po from Kung Fu Panda and the Furious Five (a personal favorite cartoon series and movie)… and note that his Furious Five comrades have often made reference to Po having a certain aroma aka stinky fragrance.

Maybe Fragrance is a great name for the female cub.

All pandas are born blind, and despite having a pink color to them that makes them look hairless, pandas are born with a very fine coat of fur before it grows out into the familiar white and black coloration.

Shan Shan—whose name was chosen from some 320,000 suggestions, was approved by Chinese authorities who have loaned her parents to the Ueno Zoo… implying that one day, like the pandas in Toronto, they will go back to China… including little Shan Shan who will then always be known as Xiang Xiang.

(Yes...  the pandas at the Toronto Zoo will be heading back to China in another month or so.)

Shan Shan, for now, is a healthy six kilograms (13 pounds) and is 65 centimeters (26 inches) long. She has doubled her size in the past month, and now has some teeth coming in.

Long before watching Kung Fu Panda, I have long thought that while cuddly and adorable, pandas are stupid.

I have heard many times of panda parents rolling over and killing newborn cubs, and thought that that lack of parental instinct is a huge contributor to the panda being considered an endangered species. Too stupid for its own good.

To be fair, while giant pandas were once considered endangered, conservation efforts by China and others have helped develop an increase in the population to where it is now considered “vulnerable”… so not out of the woods yet (no pun intended).

The black and white tabby cat we brought home from the shelter last tear was going be named Po by me in reference to his resemblance to Po, the Kung Fu Panda… but I called him Fred a la Scooby Doo.

Yes, I really do think like that.

Xiang Xiang/Shin Shin/Fragrance was born on June 12, 2017 to the zoo's resident giant panda mom Shin Shin… who is indeed on loan from China.

Just so you know, China owns almost all the pandas in the world, including all their future offspring.
There are only two pandas not owned by China: Xin Xin (a giant panda), and Shuan Shuan—both of whom are owned by Mexico.

Xin Xin, born in 1990 is the granddaughter, while Shuan Shuan is the child of a pair of pandas received by Mexico in the 1970s… at a time BEFORE the whole China owns all pandas statement.

Xin Xin was born to mom Tohul, who was born in 1981 in Mexico to mom Ying Ying, who was a gift from China to Mexico in 1975.

Shuan Shuan was born in 1987 to mom Ying Ying. 

Apparently, if either of these two pandas has kids, those offspring will belong to China.
Fortunately, as evidenced by the panda named Tohul, not every single panda needs to have the ridiculous double name.

Andrew Andrew
PS: If you need a caption for the image above, might I suggest: "Holy Moses! A giant panda in a basket!" Just keeping it old testament, er, school. 
PPS: First pandas, and then the world! Mu-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Japan's WWII Clay Coin

Building upon what I discussed two days ago (HERE), here is another example of a country affected hard by metal shortages during WWII.

Japan - yeah, one of the bad guys in WWII, was struggling late in the war to continue its efforts to build warplanes and ships and other war weapons thanks to a lack of metal.

In an effort to avoid "waste" the Japanese government okayed the pressing of coins made of a red clay.

Yup. Clay. Heck... if you go to that blog I wrote two days ago, you'll see how, for one of its occupied territories in China, it created coins made of corrugated... the real term for what is generally known as cardboard.

Now... to be fair, the red clay coin pictured above - a 1 Sen coin - was never actually released to the public. Although, there is a report that it was "unofficially" circulated a few days before the war's end.

It was due out in 1945, things were looking bad for Japan... and it simply wasn't released.

The coins were created by the Kyowa Shinko Pottery Co., Ltd. in Arita Town, Saga-ken (Saga Prefecture) and by Kyoto Seto Manufacturing.

The coin is made up of:
  • Sanemasaka clay - 60%;
  • Izumiyama stone - 15%;
  • Red-eye clay - 15%;
  • Other material - 10%.
It's actually a nice looking coin, with an image of Mt. Fuji (akak Fuji-san) one one side of the coin.

And... because it's fun, there is also a brown clay version of the 1 Sen coin - also never circulated:

Both coins (regardless of clay color) weigh 0.8grams and are 15mm across.

Prices asked at various auction sites are anywhere from US $28 - $200.

Don't take any wooden nickels... or should you?
Andrew Joseph

Here's a few examples of wooden nickels from the U.S. Canada also had wooden nickels and are simply souvenir tokens given away at fairs and as promotional retail giveaways. This set is asking US$9 for the lot. A dime is placed beside for a sizing. They look to be "quarter" sized.

And, yeah... there is such a thing as a $3 bill. Above is mine, picked up in 1984, I believe when I visited there. Ain't nothing crooked about it. It's worth about US$20, and are generally picked from Bahamian circulation by curious tourists like myself.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Tomioka Train Station - Fukushima Renewal

Tomioka-eki (富岡駅, Tomioka train station) in Fukushima-ken (Fukushima Prefecture) is going to re-open on October 21, 2017.

The key is re-open.

On March 11, 2011, Japan was hit by a 9.0 Magnitude earthquake, causing a massive tsunami that crashed onto the northeastern coast of the country killing about 20,000 people.

In the prefecture of Fukushima, the tsunami also knocked out power to the Daiichi nuclear electricity power generating facility there causing multiple near meltdowns, releasing fairly substantial amounts of radioactive materials into the surrounding air, water and ground... and also causing the evacuation of the area of a very large swathe of people in at first a 30 kilometer-wide range, later reduced to 20 kilometers. 

We all know about that... and if you want, you can do a search under "Fukushima" to see the many multiples of blogs I have written on damn near everything on the events.

Anyhow... back on March 11, the tsunami also destroyed the Tomioka Station (富岡駅 Tomioka-eki) railway station owned by East Japan Railway Company that was first built in 1898.
This is Tomioka Train Station on March of 2012 - nothing left. You can compare it with the image above by looking at the lines on the roadway. Yeah. Image credit HERE.
While the train station had been in a state of closure these past six-and-a-half years, a year or so back, JR East began the arduous task of building a new station... because... well, if people are going to eventually get back to a sense of normality, they need normal things.

The station was part of the Jōban Line, and was located 247 kilometers from the official starting point of the line at Nippori Station, but after the nuclear reactor problem, operations on the Jōban Line between Tatsuta Station and Nittaki Station were suspended indefinitely.

That original Tomioka train station - seen at the top of the article in a 2009 photo (credit HERE) - was a simple single island platform, and one side platform, connected by a footbridge, and, of course, a staffed ticket office.

In January 2015, work started on dismantling the remains of the station building and footbridge. On 14 September 2017, a train arrived at the station for the first time in over six years - it was just a test run.

Officially, service to the station will commence on October 21, 2017.

Here's the thing that I wonder about: The whole city of Tomioka was part of the evacuation zone due to the nuclear disaster issue.

While people have been allowed to enter this part of the evacuation zone since August of 2012, people were not allowed to stay overnight owing to the high radiation levels.

But... on March 25, 2013 the nuclear evacuation zone was lifted by Japan... with the town of Tomioka rezoned into three areas defined by level of radiation. Low, medium and high. Uh-huh.

Tomioka's smart town government, however, was having none of that, and decided it would be best if the evacuation area was continued in its town for an additional four years.

Their thought process was: What's the point in allowing the people back into Tomioka if there's no proper infrastructure for them. That's why they wanted four more years.

In the zone with the highest radiation levels, no Tomioka resident could return home for at least five more years.

Only residents of Tomioka--and I mean registered residents--were even allow to go to Tomioka... with also else refused entry.

This is a small town in Japan. Everyone knows everyone... so that was actually fairly easy to police.

At the time of the disaster, the high-level radiation part of Tomioka (the northern section) had 4,500 residents. So they are screwed until 2018.

The central part of the town, which used to have 10,000 residents was designated as a residence restriction zone, in which the residents could return during daytime hours but have to leave at night.

The remaining zone of the southern part of Tomioka had about 1,500 residents, with restrictions lifted.

This is still as of 2013.

In a survey taken in 2013, some 40 percent of the Tomioka's residents said they would never return, while 43 percent were undecided.

While many people were concerned about the radiation, others were also worried that their livelihood was destroyed and what would they do now, and many also felt that if they did return to Tomioka, it would hurt their chances of receiving compensation from TEPCO (the Tokyo Electric Power Company) who owned the Daiichi nuclear facility and have been held accountable for not having proper safeguards in place to prevent the nuclear catastrophe.

The Daiichi safeguards issue prompted Japan to examine the rest of its nuclear power plants, eventually forcing the closure of all facilities until such time the safety features were upgraded - a process that continues to this day... though some nuclear plants have been restarted, while others are being delayed as local residents re-think the whole concept of "safe and clean" nuclear power stations to generate electricity.

On January 31, 2011, the town of Tomioka had a population of 15,839 people featuring 6,293 families.

Since the disaster, and since the lifting of the evacuation order, as of December 2014, it has a registered population of 14,141 people. That doesn't mean they are back... just that that many people are still officially registered as being part of Tomioka.

But it does show promise.

And now... upcoming in one months time... the town's Tomioka train station is open for business.

It's not just going to be a train stop... there will also be a place to get food and drink.

JR East announced the opening of Sakura Station Kinone (Kinnen) store with a retail shop and restaurant at the station. I wish I had an image of the new Tomioka Train Station, but I don't.

The shop and restaurant aspect are important.

There are still relatively few shops around the Tomioka train station--when the evacuation order was given on April 1, 2011... everyone left the town, except for one man who stayed to feed his animals. No... I don;t know what happened to him or his critters.

JR East figures that by adding more shops et al, it will provide residents with greater convenience and will help promote that the town of Tomioka is not only a viable place to live.... well... that's pretty much it.  

The store's name of "Sakura" means cherry... and was used "on purpose" to encourage people that Tomioka is a place to "put down roots."

The Sakura Station Kinone (Kinnen) convenience store will provide foods, beverages, tobacco, and something called a "newspaper", as well as hot foods such as noodles.

I assume that while most of the restrictions in the town have been lifted, some are still in place... but at least there's an attempt at bringing normalcy back for those brave enough to tray and rebuild their life.

Andrew Joseph

Saturday, September 23, 2017

A History Lesson About A Japanese Cardboard Coin

Let’s start at the beginning… well… in the middle of the beginning:

Manchukuo (満州国)—the State of Manchuria—was known by westerners as “Manchuria”, and was the designated official “homeland” of the Chinese ruling family’s ethnic group.

In 1931, Japan seized the territory of Manchiria following the Mukden Incident—a staged event by Japanese military personnel as a “reason” to invade Manchuria in northeastern China.

A year later, Japan installed its puppet government, naming Puyi, the last Qing emperor, as regent and emperor.

When Japan was defeated to close WWII in 1945, this Manchukuo's government was abolished in 1945, with territories formally claimed by the puppet state first seized in the Soviet invasion of Manchuria in August 1945.

Of course, WWII’s end wasn’t officially signed until September of 1945, so that was just the USSR being a dink and trying to grab as much land as possible, knowing that since the war was still officially on, it could claim to own the Manchukuo territory, which could then be bargained back to China for some form of compensation.

If compensation to China did occur, I can’t say, but the territory was returned officially to China, by the USSR in 1946. Maybe they got free fried shrimp dumplings for a year or something… but I doubt it was done freely. 

Anyhow… while Japan occupied the Manchukuo territory, in my opinion, a great way to demoralize an invaded country’s people is to either blow up special landmarks or to replace its currency.

Replacing the currency is less violent, however, and Japan smartly used this tactic (as despicable as it was), in many of its invaded territories, including Manchukuo, the Philippines, Malaya, Burma, Netherlands Indies, and Oceania (used in British New Guinea, the Solomon and Gilbert Islands and other small island outposts).

Interesting enough, Manchukuo is NOT mentioned on the Wikipedia website about Japanese invasion money, officially known as Southern Development Bank Notes (Japanese: 大東亜戦争軍票 Dai Tō-A Sensō gunpyō, "Greater East Asia War military scrip") - HERE.

Of course, Japan’s aggression against China began nearly a decade before the official start of WWII… and China is often forgotten as being a victim of Imperial Japanese aggression because the country was occupied by Japan before WWII started…

Beginning in 19332, Japan minted coins for the puppet state of Manchukuo, featuring various coins of bronze and copper-nickel.

But, beginning in 1944, Japan realized that the whole war against Asia plus the U.S. wasn’t going as pleasantly as it had initially thought… and realized that it needed to get its hands on as much metal as possible to continue building airplanes and ships and other military items.

As such, coinage for territories outside of Japan were picked to have its metal replaced. No one gave a crap about Manchukuo, so it took the metal coins from circulation and replaced them with coins made of red fiber—a corrugated… cardboard, if you will.

1 Fen coin made of cardboard. No! It's corrugated!

These red fiber coins were issued in Manchukuo in 1944 and 1945, and are described within the Standard Catalog of World Coins as being “red or brown fiber.”

Only two denominations were produced: one (1) and five (5) fen coins.

5 Fen coin made of corrugated... the correct term for what people call cardboard.

I wish I could tell you how many of each coin was produced, but unfortunately, I can’t.

If those numbers exist, they are in Japanese, locked within a Japanese ministry archives, or more than likely destroyed by the peoples of Manchukuo after the country’s liberation from Japan (and the USSR).

The coins are not expensive to purchase, apparently… I saw a value for the 1 Fen coin at around US$3, and 5 Fen coin at US$7.50.

An interesting pair of curios to be sure.

The red ink stamp denotes it is part of Japanese occupation. I think. It makes sense. Unless the stamp was always there...

And… because sometimes I just don’t know when to stop writing, creating money out of a new “ingredient” during WWII is hardly limited to Japan. 

In Canada, we have a five-cent coin since 1921, made of nickel… and call it a nickel.

I won’t discuss the KA_CHING!!!! 1920 five-cent coin, but from 1919 and earlier, the five-cent coin was known as a five-cent silver, because that’s what it was made off. Canada switched to a less expensive metal because oft times there was more than five cents worth of silver in a five-cent coin.

It’s also why Canada stopped minting pennies (copper one-cent pieces) in 2012. Originally it did have copper in it: In 1858, it contained 95% copper, 4% tin, 1% zinc (bronze). The ingredients remained the same, but in different amounts until 1997-1999, when it contained: 98.4% zinc, 1.6% copper plating. Between 2000-2012, the coins were made of 94% steel, 1.5% nickel, and 4.5% copper plating.

The coins cost more than one cent to produce, so it was done away with. If a product costs $1.52, we round down to $1.50. If it’s $1.53, we round up to $1.55. This is for cash transactions only, however. For credit or debit card purchases, the actual amount is charged.        
Anyhow… Canada… the five-cent nickel coins from 1921-1942…

Because of materials shortages during WWII for war materials production, the coins metal was changed to brass… well, actually tombac, a type of brass, used in 1942 and 1943. According to the Royal Canadian Mint, it produced 8,000 tombac “nickels” in 1944—but apparently only one has ever come to light.

The 1942 brass tombac five-cent coin. Beaver on the reverse, King George VI on the obverse. The front/obverse is always the reigning monarch.

Actually, when the tombac five-cent coin was introduced in 1942, Canada also issued a standard “nickel” coin… perhaps to either not freak out the people, or because the tombac was only introduced later in the year… not sure.  I could ask the Mint, but I noticed on their site that they say the tombac coins were produced 1942-1946… and that’s simply not true. 

In 1944 and 1945, the Royal Canadian Mint went away from brass to produce a steel “nickel” coated with nickel and chrome plated. I’ve not seen one, but apparently there are also a small number of the steel/chrome nickels produced WITHOUT the chrome plating, but only in 1944.

The United States, of course, produced a steel penny in 1943 to replace the copper material needed for war materials… but the real money is if you find a bronze 1943 penny nowadays worth around $100,000 depending on condition. Ka-ching!

What’s the point of all this? Well, besides the fact that the war efforts of the U.S., Canada and Japan—just three examples—forced each to alter the way they produce coinage, but in the case of Canada and the U.S., you get a chance to see a wee bit of incompetence… which is the only such coins as mentioned above could have been released—even a single coin.

By the way… I’m not calling anyone at the various Mints ‘stupid’… just that they need(ed) to work on their quality assurance and/or security.

Canada, by the way… after releasing the tombac brass five-cent coin in 1942, received complaints from some of the populace that its round, usual “nickel” shape was too easy to confuse with the similar colored “penny” (one-cent coin). So… in 1943, it altered the shape of the formerly smooth-sided five-cent coin, designing it for 1943 and for a number of years afterwards with 12-sides. Now that’s customer service.

As an eight-year-old, after finding a 1943 Canadian silver quarter behind the floor quarter rounds (or whatever they are called) of the house we just moved in, I began to collect coins as a numismatic (coin collector)… made more frenetic by the family going to the Queen Elizabeth building at that year’s CNE (Canadian National Exhibition), where a dealer was selling individual coins. I even subscribed to the Canadian Coin News newspaper as a kid… later used to hide copies of Playboy and Penthouse magazine as I became a teenager.

I collected until the price of silver went through the rough raising prices to stupid levels, which never properly adjusted when the price of silver went down.

Anyhow… I just thought it interesting to note that during the war Japan—already struggling with diminished metals for its crazy WWII war efforts—wasn’t about to waste metal of any kind for coinage in a country it conquered.

Tune in tomorrow when I talk about one special Japanese war coin from its own country.

Can’t buy me love with a cardboard coin,
Andrew "Ain't worth a plug nickel" Joseph

Friday, September 22, 2017

Conveyor Belt Sushi Luggage

I’m sure the above photo is just a marketing ploy by some Japanese company selling overwraps for luggage that look like sushi.

It’s funny on multiple levels seeing as how Japan invented the conveyor belt sushi shop.

For the uninitiated, at such conveyor line sushi shops, the chefs place specific color quarter plates on the line, with a couple of pieces of sushi. The conveyor belt line winds around the establishment, and at any time the customer—who is eating directly behind the conveyor, can pull off a quarter dish of their favorite sushi and eat it.

At the end of the day, you take your empty quarter plate up, and are charged appropriately.

The quarter plates are actually color coded.

For example, a yellow rimmed quarter plate always contains shrimp sushi and krab sushi (not crab sushi).

A blue rimmed quarter plate might hold a more expensive eel sushi.

Green rimmed might be an expensive tuna…

The point is, when you were finished eating, you took you empty plates up to the cashier who counted out the different color plates, knowing that each plate has a certain ¥-value.

Yellows are ¥100 yen; Green ¥240; Blue ¥175… just as an example.

Which is why placing these sushi baggage wraps atop an airport luggage container is an amusing proposition.

Andrew Joseph
PS: The egg sushi, seen second from the lower right, is my favorite. That and eel.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Duke’s 1890 Trading Card: Flower Day, Japan

A long, time ago, in a country far away, a tobacco company created a set of cards to amuse its consumers.

In 1890, the Duke’s Cigarettes set of cards featuring the theme of “Holidays” was released, featuring 50 cards, each representing a “holiday” from somewhere around the planet.

While the art from this series is generally considered to be spectacular, holy crap does the data on the reverse leave a lot to be desired.

I collect tobacco cards—specifically the 17 sets (or so) based on the Wills’s 1910 Aviation series of 50 cards.

After the initial set of 50 cards in 1910, in 1911, different tobacco companies released variations of sets in both 75- and 85-card series, with some different cards, and some identical in every way except one has a black ink reverse, and the other a green ink reverse.

The Duke’s set… they only ever offered a particular series just the once… but it being some 20 years older than mine, it has a certain $ premium…

if you look at the reverse of the Holidays card below, you will note that at no point does it actually mention WHEN the holiday is. Even a general date… like the first Thursday of XX month. Or say when it approximately begins.

Maybe say that this is an ancient cultural aspect of Japan going back some 1500 years, and is now known as ‘hanami’ - flower blossom viewing, especially as the plum and cherry trees bloom.

That’s when people stroll about in their gay attire and sip a delicious tea and write lovely gut-wrenching poems about love and spring…

I do find it interesting that poems written (at least as of 1890), were hung “upon some friendly bough.”

Does that mean that others could come along and read your crappy haiku?

“I love’em in frills
I love’em in lace,
But I love’em the best
When they sit on my… never mind. You get the idea… people are going to judge you.

I would imagine it was the brave romantic poet who left his poetry hanging about for others to enjoy.

He stood before the judge that day
And picked his nose like fury
He rolled them into little balls
And flicked them at the jury.

or… the world’s shortest poem, entitled: “Fleas”

I’m here all week folks. Try the veal and don’t forget to tip your server.

No... I do not claim ownership as originator of those poems. I a mean Godzilla haiku creator, however... so I recommend you do a search above for "Godzilla haiku" and see what comes up... like one's lunch. 

Anyhow… the Duke’s Holiday Card could have used some better information.  

I suppose, however, since few people had any common knowledge of Japan, seeing this card and reading all about the gay attire (I know what it means!!!) in 1890, it must have been a step across the globe for people’s imagination.

Andrew Joseph

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better

You ever heard the old song “Anything You Can Do”, written in 1946? I’m sure you know it or have heard snippets of it…

Here… have a listen:

The song is from the 1946 musical “Annie Get Your Gun”, and should you have deigned not to have a listen to the oldie but goodie, I'll tell you that it’s a song with a single male singer and a single female singer, who are basically having an argument about who’s the best.

The best what?  Ahhh, there’s the rub.    

As most people are aware, North Korea is being a real dick right now, testing its long-range missile program every few days or so by launching a missile, causing it to fly OVER Japan… to land in the ocean

What’s the big whoop?

Well, it not only flies OVER Japan—without approval… but what if the missile fails during the flight?

It’s called a missile test… sometimes it passes, sometimes it fails. So… whenever North Korea brazenly fires a missile over Japanese lands, Japan blasts out warning sirens for its populace to take shelter, in case it fails and plummets to the ground.

Why does North Korea do this? Is it angry at Japan?

Well, d’uh… yes… it is angry at Japan. Mainly because it’s not North Korea and a not a socialist state like it is, and therefore it is weak and beneath contempt.

Then there’s the fact that Japan is an ally to the United States of America. Say what you will about President Trump, he might be considered by some within his own country as a bully, and as such he sure hates it when others then he’s weak.

It’s actually nothing personal against president Trump. North Korea enjoys testing the mettle of each new president… seeing what it can get away with… what sort of response North Korea receives… its high-stakes politicking, and Japan is caught in the middle.

And yes, it is also North Korea showing the world not to fug with it, because it is developing nuclear-delivery missiles that can hit targets as far away as the U.S., should it want or need to.

North Korea supreme leader Kim Jong-un is a cagey bugger. The thing to know first, is that he is smart.

It is my firm belief that he’s not stupid enough to fire a nuclear weapon at US territory Guam, as it has threatened to do.

It has no desire to actually drop a missile onto Japan—though if one should actually fail and land on Japan—oops… we didn’t mean to do that.

No.. the name of the game is intimidation.

Like all bullies, you have to continue to put it out there that you are a bad dude. You have to do bad stuff.

But, instead of smacking around some bespectacled little kid with asthma, North Korea is flexing its nuclear might.

Surely supreme leader Kim Jong-un realizes that if it goes to war against anyone, it’s own country will be vaporized with counter nuclear attacks… and woe to all those poor dumb countries unlucky enough to be near it when it happens… like China or South Korea… we know it as MAD… mutual assured destruction… and it is a nuclear detente that the world has been forced to live with since the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb or two on Japan and poached as many of Nazi Germany’s top scientists as it could ahead of the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republic), now for better or worse know just as Russia.

So… North Korea is flexing its muscles.

What can the rest of the world do?

Countries are busting North Korean acquaintance China to try and keep them under control. They are  begging China to stop feeding supplies to North Korea. China says it will—as far as the requested embargoes go, but it will continue to trade with North Korea… mostly because it needs to for its own economic continuance. Besides… it wasn’t on the embargo list.

What do you do with a bully?

You stand up to them. You flex back and hope like hell the bully doesn’t decide to lash out. Most of the time… in real life… they say that a bully is just as afraid of you as you are afraid of them. I don’t know about that.

But if you are a big country, with lots of friends, with lots of weapons… you can create an imaginary line and flex away to show the bully that you are unafraid.

So… after North Korea performed its sixth nuclear underground test on September 3, 2017, the United Nations imposed sanctions against North Korea.

North Korea said, WTF, and in a show of “we’re not afraid” launched its latest missile over Hokkaido, Japan this past weekend… where the missile (non-nuclear) landed far off in the sea to the east of Japan. 

America said WTF… and so on September 18, 2017—and with permission—the U.S. military flew 10 total aircraft featuring advanced bombers and stealth jets over the Korean Peninsula and near Japan in drills with South Korean and Japanese warplanes….

It was done by South Korea and Japan just to remind North Korea that it has weapons and isn’t afraid to use them… and it has a big buddy in the U.S…. so don’t start none, if ya don’t want none.

Really… that’s what’s going on. Posturing. Whipping out the old penis to see who has the bigger one, and then peeing all over the place to see who can pee farthest and longest.

The Fly-by by the U.S., South Korea and Japan featured:
  • two Rockwell B-1B Lancer bombers from the U.S.;
  • four Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning IIF-35B short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) fighters  from the U.S;
  • four McDonnell Douglas F-15K Slam Eagle fighter jets from South Korea.
Hmm… so what the heck did Japan send? Well… keep in mind that after WWII, Japan was not allowed to develop a military… which is one reason why Japan allows the U.S. to maintain military bases on its islands.

During the South Korean flyovers, the U.S. and South Korean planes practiced attacks by releasing live weapons at a firing range in South Korea.

The U.S. warplanes also conducted formation training with Japanese fighter jets (these aircraft are part of Japan’s Self Defense Forces… and is a fun way of saying it’s a non-aggressive military that’s not a military) over waters near the southern island of Kyushu.

This past weekend, the official North Korean state media quoted supreme leader Kim Jong-un as saying his country’s goal “is to establish the equilibrium of real force with the U.S. and make the U.S. rulers dare not talk about military option” for the North.

What that means, is that North Korea wants to make sure it is strong enough to repel any possible attempts by the U.S. or other forces by having as much nuclear might as others do.

Take what you want from Kim Jong-un’s statement, but it sounds like he’s saying he just wants to be
left alone.

Well… I believe that he wants to unify Korea by annexing South Korea into the glorious totalitarian regime under one supreme leader Kim Jong-un… he just doesn’t want the U.S. to get involved in any war it starts, because otherwise he’ll attack the U.S.

The plan, as I see it:
  • North Korea attacks South Korea.
  • Anyone who tries to help South Korea, gets bombed by North Korea.
That’s the plan.

Of course, North Korea has not stated such grandiose plans officially, but I’d bet heavily that that’s the plan. 

The simplest option would be for South Korea to arm itself in a similar fashion… but do we need yet another country with nuclear capabilities? No… so it could ask ally U.S.A to bring back and park its nuclear weapons in the general vicinity in a visible act of hopeful deterrence towards North Korea.

What would happen then? North Korea would threaten back… telling the U.S. to gets is missiles away from the Korean (Cuban) Missile Crisis… only unlike the former Soviet Union which blinked and backed down in October of 1962, supreme leader Kim Jong-un wants everyone to believe he won’t blink.

We aren’t there yet… but that’s my best guess as to where we are heading.

Eventually,  even a bully that doesn’t want to fight might have to in order to try and save face. That’s where we’ll see if ego is more powerful than common sense.


How much do bomb shelters cost? And… what's the best way to kill a mutant? I better watch Beneath The Planet Of The Apes again. Man, that movie sucked.

Andrew Joseph
PS: For fun, read the political analysis written by Daniel Dale, Washington Bureau, Toronto Star: HERE. In it, he says: "Experts believe Kim is rational, not mad, and that he wants to avoid nuclear war. But they have long feared that Kim might be provoked by loose Trump language into miscalculating, launching a strike..." Okay... maybe you don't have to click on the link now - but I would. Anything you can do, I can do better. I can do anything better than you. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Japanese Woman Now Oldest Person On Planet

It's kind of the suckiest title to own, because it means someone has to die ahead of you... but
Tajima Nabi (田島 ナビ, surname first) is now the oldest person on Earth at the age of 117 years of age after the recent passing of Jamaica's Violet Brown on September 15, 2017 (dying at the age of 117 years and 189 days).

Born August 4, 1900, in what was once Wan Village, but now part of Kikai Town in Kagoshima, Tijima is proof that the Japanese don't really move far from where they were born, now living in Kikai, Kagoshima-ken... the same place...

At 117-years of age (and I think 48 days), Tajima is now the oldest Japanese person ever (this means oldest officially recorded and documented person). Heck, she's the oldest Asian person ever... whatever that means.

The photo above is recent (relative to 117 years), with Tajima finding out in 2016 that she was now the second-oldest person on the planet Earth... or she's celebrating VJ Day (Victory over Japan Day)... or she's simply doing the Japanese penchant (since forever) for flashing the peace sign whenever anyone with a camera shows up.

Come one... I'm sure she has a sense of humor! I'm just having fun with her. I'm hoping to make it past half her age... and who knows.

Classic zen:
Which would you rather be? The dead butterfly or the live caterpillar.
The dead butterfly... it has achieved the next stage of metamorphosis... while the caterpillar may not make it to that level.

It doesn't mean you have to die... it just means that sometimes... when someone has reached a whole new level - like say reaching 100 years of age - well... they've made it... and despite all your own current potential, you may never get to their level... we could get hit by a bus on the way home tomorrow...

Tajima, bless her, has nine kids—seven sons and two daughters, 28 grandchildren, 56 great-grandchildren, and 35 great-great-grandchildren.

Wikipedia also says she has great-great-great grandkids, but does not provide a number, so I will discount at this time (or simply not include them).

I don't get this part... but maybe I do... it says that as of September 15, 2017, Tajima is the last surviving person born in the 19th century... so I guess the 20th century did not begin until January 1, 1901... which I guess is what Wikipedia is getting to.

It means that all other pretenders to Tajima's silver (hair) crown were born in 1901 and later.

And... since we all want to know what the secret to Tajima's success at achieving such an age could be due to... aside from genetics she says the key is sleeping well and eating delicious things... what... like Krispy Kreme glazed donuts?

No? Has she ever had one? Tajim may not know what delicious foods are, confusing them with the term "healthy."

Let's see... nope... she likes to eat ramen noodles and rice mackerel sushi. I'm not sure why the word "rice" needs to be in the phrase "rice mackerel sushi" as I suppose a sushi requires rice... and while I'm sure there's nothing wrong with mackerel, I prefer eel.

When she says ramen... I'm assuming she doesn't mean that cup of hot water ramen noodle stuff.

Tajima has been around for the birth of the aeroplane/airplane, WWI, WWII and the atomic age, Korea, Vietnam, the first flight to the moon, record players, radio, television, transistor radios, Walkmans, personal telephones, cell phones, smart phones, Dance Dance Revolution, Women getting the right to vote, the death of Beta and LaserDiscs, 8-Track, Cassettes, CDs, DVDs, pirating stuff, 100 years of Mitsubishi, rolling a barrel hoop for fun to mind-numbing brainless fun with video games.

What fun, Tajima-san! What fun! It doesn't matter if you ever experienced any or all of that crap and fun stuff... you were there... you have a unique story to tell... oh please let her have told her story!

Even a story about a common person is uncommon now. It's a unique perceptive into living in a time long... well... for Tajima, it's not lost...

The queen is dead! Long live the Queen.

Banzai, banzai, banzai!
Andrew Joseph

Monday, September 18, 2017

67,824 Centenarians In Japan

For the 47th year in a row, Japan sets a record for a growing number centenarians, now at 67,824 as of September 15, 2017.

I’m a little disappointed.

Mostly because I read the news and expected to be about centurions - as in Roman soldiers. My bad.

While I am of course happy to see such a large number of oldsters ambling about Japan, I’m sure the government of Japan is a bit nonplussed as the country continues to grow older, require more special services, while the younger population base continues to shrink where there is now a negative population increase IE, there are now fewer Japanese people in Japan than there were the previous year.

Anyhow… the centenarian figure from the year previous rose by a total of 2,132 people according to the Japan Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry on a report issued on September 15, 2017.

Today, Monday, September 18, 2017, is the country’s Respect For The Aged Day.

Back in 1963, when the survey first began, there were only (?!) 153 centenarians in all of Japan.

By 1998 there were 10,000+ centenarians.

In 2007 there were 30,000+ centenarians for the first time ever… and, now… in just 10 relatively short  years, that centenarian population has more than doubled to its current official number of 67,824.

In the past year, 2,102 women joined the centenarian list, while only (?!) 88 men hit the big 1-0-0. Women, not surprisingly, make up approximately 88% of the total number of centenarians as of 2017.

I’m assuming the men simply just don’t want to live that long.

That’s a “husband” joke. I've used it here before.

If you are a new senior citizen, and would like to hit 100-years-of-age, there are a few places in Japan where the odds appear more in your favor.

  • 97.54 people out of 100,000 in Shimane-ken (Shimane Prefecture) make it to 100.
  • 92.11 people out of 100,000 in Tottori-ken (Tottori Prefecture) make it to 100.
  • 91.26 people out of 100,000 in Kochi-ken (Kochi Prefecture) make it to 100.
Worst odds in Japan for making it to 100 are:
  • Saitama-ken (Saitama Prefecture) at 32.09 people out of 100,000.
  • Aichi-ken (Aichi Prefecture) at 35.01 people out of 100,000.
  • Chiba-ken (Chiba Prefecture) at 37.83 people out of 100,000.
Somewhere having a bag of chips and a smoke,
Andrew Joseph
PS: Back in 1992, I purchased the telephone card celebrating the 100th birthday of twins Kin Narita (成田 きん) and Gin Kanie (蟹江 ぎん) who were born on August 1, 1892. They were the first known twins to have achieved the centenary mark. Gin, whose name means "Silver" is on the left. Kin's name means "Gold", so I would assume she was born first. You usually say Gold and Silver by reason of "value", but then there's that Christmas song about "silver and gold". Damn.