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Monday, December 31, 2018

2018 Kanji Of The Year

On December 12, 2018, the chief Buddhist priest Mori Seihan (surname first) of the Kiyomizu-dera (Kiyomizu Temple) in Kyoto unveiled the kanji (Chinese alphabet) that best symbolized the mood of Japan - sai (災, disaster).

Written via a giant calligraphy brush  (shodō (書道) on washi paper, the priest wrote the kanji 1.5 meters in length x 1.3 meters in height.

Apparently, the voted upon kanji was felt to describe the number of man-made and natural disasters that seemed to afflict the country.

This year - 2018 - there was heavy rain and mudslides in the west, and a big earthquake in Hokkaido, plus there were man-made disasters (sort of) involving stolen cryptocurrency and coaches harassing athletes.

I'm unsure how the later two are "disasters" on the scale of the kanji... if you look at the kanji, 災, it is quite obviously a pictogram representation of an active volcano. Hardly man-made.

As mentioned, the kanji is voted upon by the Japanese populace, with 193,214 entries received this year, with sai raking first with 20,858 tallies, according to the Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation.

The kanji of the year 2017 was kita/north (北), as Japan was rightly concerned with North Korea and its missile testing over Japan.

Andrew Joseph

Sunday, December 30, 2018

The Hijacking Of Japan Airlines Flight 351

On March 31, 1970 - in a time when it seems like every other aircraft was being hijacked and told to fly to Cuba, Japan Airlines Flight 351 was hijacked by nine members of the Japanese Communist League-Red Army Faction.

Their destination - Cuba. D'uh.

The flight was flying from Tokyo to Fukuoka with 129 people (including seven crew) aboard a Boeing 727-89. The plane was known as JA8351 "YODOGO", which is why the incident is known as the Yodogo Hijacking or Yodogō Haijakku Jiken (よど号ハイジャック事件) in Japanese.

The hijackers were armed with samurai swords and pipe bombs - and it makes one wonder, just why it took until 2001 and the diabolic events of America's 9-11 for airports to really get serious about airline safety and its passengers.

The hijackers ranged in age from 16-27, and when the event began, they tied all the passengers to their seats.

Maybe I'm older and know better, but I'm thinking that if someone is going to hijack a national Japanese flight, they better make sure that plane has enough fuel.

Although their ultimate destination was Cuba, the hijackers figured they would go to North Korea first and refuel and fly all the way to the land of Fidel.

Aircraft captain Ishida Shinji (surname first), told the hijackers that there was no way the plane was going to be able to fly to Cuba - not enough fuel... and even fully fueled, it still wouldn't be enough to fly all the way from Pyongyang, North Korea to Cuba.

The hijackers then allowed the pilot to land the plane at Itazuke Airbase near Fukuoka, Japan.

In exchange for fuel to fly to North Korea, the hijackers released one elderly male, 10 women and 12 children. The aircraft also took aboard Japan's Transport Minister.

The hijackers still figured on flying to Pyongyang, and then would come up with some sort of plan to get to Cuba. 

The plane then refueled and took off to the hostage taker's next destination... North Korea and its Pyongyan Mirim Airport.

At least that was the plan.

The air crew and Japan Airlines tried to screw with the hijackers, instead flying to South Korea's Gimpo Airport in Seoul, where authorities attempted to make the hijackers believe they were actually in North Korea.

Korean Airlines official Chung Man-Jin , 28, approached the aircraft along with a Korean official and a Seoul representative of JAL.

"This is Pyongyang, and we welcome you,” shouted one of them via a megaphone up to the cockpit’s now open window.

It was like a scene out of the Mel Brooks movie Blazing Saddles, only in real life the hijackers weren't fooled for long.

Although more hostages were released in Seoul, the airplane again went up and this time for sure, landed in North Korea. The Japanese Transport Minister was still a hostage, but was released upon landing.

By the way... I can't figure out the name of the Transport Minister... which is why I think the reporting sucked or the information I found is shoddy.

Some of the interesting passengers aboard that flight were:
  • future Roman Catholic Archbishop and Cardinal Stephen Fumio Hamao (see HERE for more);
  • J-pop singer Akira Mita (surname first); 
  • Hinohara Shigeaki, a physician who is credited with establishing and popularizing Japan's practice of annual medical checkups.
As for the hijackers... they all surrendered to North Korean authorities who granted everyone asylum.

That was the plan... to hijack the plane, take it to North Korea to defect.

And they lived happily ever after in North Korea. Or did they?

The Hijackers (surname first):
  1. Wakabayashi Moriaki; 
  2. Shibata Yasuhiro; 
  3. Tanaka Yoshimi; 
  4. Tamiya Takamaro; 
  5. Kintaro Yoshida; 
  6. Okamoto Takeshi;
  7. Konishi Takahiro;
  8. Akagi Shiro;
  9. Uomoto Kimihuro.
The hijacking was planned - but did not physically take part in - by Shiomi Takaya.

Found over at:
I should point out that the nine mentioned above are a best guess by myself, as details appear to sketchy or at best shoddily reported on by western media.

This Shiomi dude who planned the whole thing, must have been off his rocker.

Sure the plan to have a bunch of hijackers smuggle aboard weapons was simple and easy... but not realizing that a domestic aircraft would NOT have enough fuel to even fly to North Korea is stupid.

And to not realize that the aircraft's fuel tanks weren't big enough to hold the fuel needed to fly from North Korea to Cuba... well... that's beyond stupid.

Soon after the event, Shiomi was arrested, convicted and served almost 20 years in prison in Japan. He died on November 14, 2017 of heart failure

North Korea, welcomed all of the hijackers as heroes... and maybe it was a big of that, or maybe North Korea simply didn't have the means to send them to Cuba, but in North Korea they remained.

Sort of.

Shibata returned to Japan in secret in 1985 trying to raise money for the group now under the moniker of the Japanese Red Army. He was arrested and sentenced to five years in prison.

Tanaka was arrested in Cambodia in 1996 and later indicted in Thailand for allegedly using counterfeit U.S. currency, only to be found not guilty later. However, he was extradited to Japan in 2000, where he was sentenced in 2002 for 12 years for his involvement in the hijacking. He died in prison in 2007.

Tamiya died in North Korea in 1995.

Kintaro died in North Korea before 1985.

It is supposed that Okamoto (and his wife Fukudome Kimiko - who joined him later in North Korea) - were killed while trying to flee North Korea. Fukudome may have voluntarily gone to North Korea, or she may have been kidnapped from Japan.

Still alive and living in North Korea are: Konishi, Akagi, Uomoto and Wakabayashi - at least as of 2004.

Realizing that North Korea wasn't the type of town to paint red, thanks to the tyrannical rule of its overlords, the above four want to go back to Japan, even if they will still be punished (they would be).

In 2002, they officially requested that North Korea return them to Japan.

And, on September 10, 2002, five of their children were to fly to a Japan they have never seen. With them will be one of the hijacker's wives, Konishi Takako Konishi, who would be arrested as soon as she sets foot off the plane.

I can NOT determine if they actually were allowed to fly to Japan. I doubt it. Why would Japan want them?

And... as of 2004, the four hijackers remain in North Korea. A letter delivered from North Korea to Japan by a supporter (who also brought along the wife of hijacker Tanaka -Tanaka Yoshimi) says that the four want to come back to Japan and “dispel misunderstanding and distrust” that they are North Korean “agents of terrorism,” according to the supporter.


While this wasn't the first time they had tried to talk with Japan, Japanese officials say they have no interest in negotiating with them.
"Yodo-go" hijackers being interviewed by the media in Pyongyang
(From left to right: Kimihiro Uomoto, Takahiro Konishi, Shiro Akagi, Moriaki Wakabayashi)
(September 2004) (Photo: Kyodo Press)
At that time, however, Japan was talking with North Korea and told them that they should hand those four over to Japan unconditionally. 

And... since I can find no more recent record, I am assuming they remain there.

Andrew Joseph
PS: Sorry for the delay - I really thought this was an easy one to write, and gave myself 60 minutes.
I should have realized that despite all of this having happened only 49 years ago, information is crap. At least what's available on-line.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

A Matter Of Life Imitating Art

It was just over one year ago in 2017 when a Japanese study done by researchers from Kyoto University found that lightning can generate antimatter.

I’m on the antimatter kick merely because I watched the movie Angels and Demons. I’ve long known about the concept of antimatter… always having heard that if matter and antimatter should touch – kaboom.

The image above is the containment unit for antimatter from that movie. 

What is antimatter? Well, so the theory goes, for every particle of matter that exists in the universe, its exact opposite antimatter counterpart also exists.

Antimatter has mass, and electrical charge, and its typical interactions, but yes, if you smash a matter particle with an antimatter particle, both explode with violent energy.

At least that’s what science fiction has taught me over the decades.

Antimatter was first postulated in 1930 by Paul Dirac of Great Britain, a physicist who was trying to make quantum mechanics work with Einstein’s special theory of relativity. He felt that an electron should have a partner particle of the exact same mass but with the opposite charge and magnetic movement.
Paul Dirac.
Carl Anderson discovered in 1932 that the anti-particle existed when looking at cosmic rays, and called it the positron.

By the 1950s, scientists had created antiprotons inside particle accelerators.

Anyhow… when an antiparticle proton meets a particle proton (positive), it explodes into pure energy. Ergo, E=MC2

Energy = Mass x Speed of Light squared.

Positrons are used in positron emission tomography scanners. CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research), by the way, back in 2010, trapped 38 antihydrogen atoms for nearly half a second.

I’m not going to explain what antimatter is any further, suffice to say the math and physics involved are above what anyone interested in this blog about Japan wants to read.

Anyhow, as far as that 2017 discovery re: lightning, gamma rays from lightning react with air to produce radioisotopes and positrons… and a positron is the antimatter equivalent of electrons.

When these Japanese scientists looked further into their data, they found three distinct gamma ray bursts:
  1. one was less than a millisecond; 
  2. the second was a gamma ray afterglow that decayed over several dozen milliseconds;
  3. then there was a long emission that lasted one minute or so.
That first burst was the lightning strike.

The second was caused by nitrogen in the atmosphere reacting with the lightning. The lightning gamma rays are strong enough to knock a neutron out of the nitrogen… but when the particles in the atmosphere reabsorb the knocked out neutron, it causes the afterglow.

The third long emission was due to the breakdown of those poor nitrogen atoms that are now missing its neutron. They released positrons that smashed into electrons in so-called annihilation events releasing gamma rays.

With life imitating art (that Angels and Demons movie, again), a project known as PUMA (antiProton Unstable Matter Annihilation) is trying to make antimatter transportable… apparently they want to move the antimatter from one CERN facility to another facility a few hundred meters away to investigate exotic nuclear phenomena.

But how does one do that? When antimatter meets matter – it explodes.

The ATLAS experiment at CERN. (Image: Maximilien Brice/CERN). Yes... human beings built this. Bloody amazing. It looks like something Doctor Octopus would have built before it exploded and bonded to his body giving him cybernetic control over the extra arms needed to smash Spider-man.

Researchers however, have found a way to trap antimatter, and then increase its lifespan. PUMA wants to trap one billion antiprotons at the CERN ELENA facility and keep them for several weeks before moving then via a van to the ISOLDE ion-beam facility, where the antiprotons would be force collided with various radioactive ions to study the exotic nuclear goings on.

I don’t know about you, but the term “exotic nuclear” anything gives me a pain in the chest.

By the way – PUMA… that’s the worst acronym ever. How does antiproton start with a “P”?

Now… if you have watched the movie Angels and Demons, you might wonder what would happen if the wrong people got hold of antimatter in real life?

Truth is, I wouldn't worry about it for now... see below.

Anyhow, the lead researcher on the PUMA project is Alexandre Obertelli, who wants to develop and build a trap and detector to produce antimatter collisions at CERN by 2022. Researchers from RIKEN (a large research institute in Tokyo) in Japan, and others have submitted letters of support to have PUMA become a CERN-recognized experiment.

Right now, CERN is able to produce just about one picogram of antimatter a year – one trillionth of a gram. In fact, if CERN was to explode all of the antimatter it has ever collected all at once, it would create enough energy to light a 60-watt light bulb for about four hours.
In 2011, the EU (European Union) banned the production of the 60-watt light bulb to encourage more energy efficient lighting. With Great Britain exiting, does that mean it can go back to producing such bulbs, or that it might use antimatter lighting? For me, this brings us back to Paul Divac.
As such, even if Obertelli and CERN is able to figure out how to transport antimatter, there is no imminent danger of it being used to blow up the world.

Somewhere wondering why there has to be a negative for every positive,
Andrew "What's the antimatter?" Joseph

Friday, December 28, 2018

The Cardinals Of Japan

So... being off this week, I watched a few movies, including The DaVinci Code and the sequel Angels And Demons. Decent books, and good movies. If you like that sort of thing.

In the latter film, which involved the death of a Pope, and the election of a new Pope by the Cardinals, I noticed a Japanese Cardinal name card amongst those voting on the new leader of the Catholic world.

It got me wondering... was there really a Cardinal from Japan? It seemed odd only because Japan's Catholics consist of about one per cent of its total population - some 509,000 people.

But what ever.

Turns out there have been a total of six Cardinals from Japan. All but one starting in the 20th century.

Cardinals of Japan

  • Peter Tatsuo Doi (土井 辰雄, Doi Tatsuo).
Born December 22, 1892 in Sendai, Miyagi-ken, he was baptized at the age of nine, studied at the seminary in Sendai and the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome before being ordained as a priest on May 1, 1921. He did pastoral work in Sendai until 1934 until he was made Secretary of the Apostolic Delegation to Japan.
On December 2, 1937, Doi was named Archbishop of Tokyo by Pope Pius XI.
During WWII, he was Executive Director of the National Catholic Central Committee before being named Apostolic Administrator of Yokohama from 1945-1947.
He was named Cardinal Priest of A. Antonio da Padova in Via Meulana in March 28, 1960.
He became the fist Japanese member of the College of Cardinals.
He was part of the Second Vatican Council from 1962-1965, and was one of the electors that selected Pope Paul VI in the 1962 papal conclave.
Doi died on February 21, 1970 in Tokyo, and is buried at St. Mary's Cathedral.
  • Paul Yoshigoro Taguchi (田口芳五郎, Taguchi Yoshigoro).
Born July 20, 1902 in Sotome, Nagasaki-ken, he graduated from Sapientia University (now St. Thomas University, Japan), he studied at Rome's Pontifical Urbanianan University and the Pontifical Atenaeum S. Apollinare. He was ordained as a priest on December 22, 1928. He finished his studies, and then in 1931 he was seminary professor and director general of the Catholic Press Centre as part of the Archdiocese of Tokyo until 1936.
Then until 1940, Taguchi was secretary of the Apostolic Delegation to Japan.
He was appointed Bishop of Osaka by Pope Pius XII on November 25, 1941 - just two weeks before Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor. That has nothing to with anything and is provided as a point of reference. He did not have an voting rights, a Cardinal Doi was still his boss.
He attended the Second Vatican Council from 1962 to 1965. He was promoted to metropolitan Archbishop on July 24, 1969.
Taguchi served as President of the Japanese Episcopal Conference from 1970-1978.
He became a Cardinal Priest of S. Maria in Via when tapped by Pope Paul VI on March 5, 1973.
Taguchi died February 23, 1978 in Osaka, and is buried in that city's Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
  • Joseph Asajirô Satowaki(里脇 浅次郎, Satowaki Asajirō).
Born February 1, 1904 in Shittsu, Kyushu-ken, he studied at the seminary of Nagasaki, Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome, and at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, USA.
While a seminarian in Rome, he invited Polish friar and future saint Maximilian Kolbe to come to Japan as a missionary.
He was ordained as a priest on December 17, 1932, he did pastoral work in Nagasaki, and served as procurator and episcopal chancellor at the Diocese of Nagasaki.
He was the Apostolic Administrator of Taiwan from 1941-145 (Taiwan was under Japanese control during WWII).
Satowaki was the rector at the Nagasaki seminary from 1945-47, as well as the vicar general, editor of the diocesan newspaper and a teacher at the Junshin School between 1945-1955.
He was appointed Bishop of Kagoshima by Pope Pius XII on February 25, 1955.
He attended the Second Vatican Council from 1962 to 1965. He was promoted to Archbishop of Nagasaki on December 19, 1968.
At this time, he was also the president of the Japanese Episcopal Conference until 1970.
He became Cardinal Priest of S. Maria della Pace by Pope John Paul II on June 30, 1979.
Satowaki died February 8, 1990 in Nagasaki, Kyushu, and is buried at the cemetery of Akagi.

  • Peter Seiichi Shirayanagi (白柳 誠一, Shirayanagi Seiichi).
Born June 17, 1928 in Hachioji, Tokyo, he studied at Sophia University gaining a degree in philosophy (1951). Why, you may ask. Because that's what you get when you don't know what you should do with your life. Okay... that's just me poking fun at philosophy grads. I shouldn't poke. I have a political science degree. And yes, I got it because it seemed the easiest degree to get. For Shirayanagi, he also specialized in theology (1954).
Shirayanagiwas ordained a priest on December 21, 1954, and then studied at the Pontifical Urban University in Rome, gaining a doctorate in Canon Law in 1960.
He was made titular Bishop of Atenia and Auxiliary of Tokyo in 1966, titular Archbishop of Castro and Coadjutor Archbishop of Tokyo in 1969, becoming Archbishop of Tokyo in 1970.
From 1983-1992 he led the Japanese Catholic Bishops' conference which opened the Japanese Catholic Center in Tokyo in 1990.
He became Cardinal Priest of Santa Emergenziana a Tor Fiorenza by Pope John Paul II on November 26, 1994.
Shirayanagi participated at the 2005 Papal Conclave to select Pope Benedict XVI.
After moving to Loyola House in Tokyo, a retirement home for aged priests on December 23 of 2009, Shirayanagi died there one week later on December 30, 2009.

  • Stephen Fumio Hamao (濱尾 文郎 Hamao Fumio)
Born March 9, 1930 in Tokyo, he was the third son of Viscount Shirō Hamao (1896–1935), who was an adopted son of the Viscount Hamao Arata, the 8th President of University of Tokyo and the 11th Minister of Education.
While the family home contained both Buddhist and Shinto shrines, his mother converted at Catholicism in 1942, with himself and his brother baptized in 1946.
He studied at Hitotsubashi University and then joined the seminary, studying at the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome.
He was ordained as a priest on December 21, 1957.
Returning to Tokyo, he served as secretary to the Cardinal Archbishop, secretary of the archdiocesan liturgical commission and, finally, parish priest of the Cathedral.
He was named titular Bishop of Oreto and auxiliary Bishop of Tokyo on February 5, 1970
Who says the priesthood isn't full of adventure? On March 31, 1970, the Japan Airlines Flight 351 was hijacked by nine members of the Japanese Communist League - Red Army Faction, when flying from Tokyo to Fukuoka. I'll write about this tomorrow (please let me remember).
He was named Bishop of Yokohama on October 30, 1979, holding that until he was named President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants. He was also named Archbishop at the same time.
He was president of the Japanese Episcopal Conference in 1995.
He became Cardinal Priest when selected by Pope John Paul II on October 21, 2003, holding the title of Cardinal Deacon of St, John Bosco in Via Tuscoloana.
Hamao participated in the 2005 Papal Conclave to select Pope Benedict XVI. Yes, there were two Japanese Cardinals.
He resigned from the Pontifical Council in March 2006, a month after the Congregation for the Causes of Saints approved the beatification of 188 Japanese martyrs from the 17th century.
While Hamao's brother Minoru had served Crown Prince Akihito as the East Palace Chamberlain, Cardinal Hamao taught Akihito Latin.
Hamao died November 8, 2007 in Tokyo, and is buried at Sacred Heart Cathedral Cemetery in Yokohama, Kanagawa-ken.

  • Thomas Aquino Manyo Maeda (前田万葉, Maeda Manyō)
Born March 3, 1949 in Tsuwasaki, Nagasaki-ken, Maeda is the current Cardinal of Japan.
Studying at Liceo Nanzan of Nagasaki, he entered the Major Seminary Saint Sulpice at Fukoka.
He was ordained as a priest on March 15, 1975.
He became Secretary General f the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Japan in 2006 until 2011.
He was named Bishop of Hiroshima by Pope Benedict XVI on June 13, 2011.
He campaigned for the beatification of the "hidden Christians" of Japan, some 3,400 Nagasaki Christians, including the 600 or so who were killed by Japan's ruling right. The rest scattered for safety across Japan.
He became Archbishop of Osaka via Pope Francis on August 20, 2014.
He became Vice-President of the Japanese Episcopal Conference since 2016.
Maeda became Cardinal Priest of Santa Pudenziana when Pope Francis named him on June 28, 2018.
I don't know much else about him, but he seems cool - cool enough to write haiku, and use them within his sermons.

Andrew Joseph

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Gone But Never Forgotten

During this time of year - the "holidays", I admit to becoming a tad melancholy.

I was certainly this way when I was in Japan... away from home... away from family.

I didn't know that soon after Christmas, that first year... in February of 1991, that my grandfather would die. I didn't know that as I set out upon that grand journey from adult into adulthood from Toronto to Ohtawara-shi, that I would not see him again. At least the memories are pleasant.

In the interim, sine returning home to Toronto, I have lost many friends to illness and accident, and even age.

My mother died a year after I returned. Relationships bloomed and withered on the vine.

People I knew passed away... and this time of year always makes me melancholy because I know the current me won't see them again.

My mother-in-law Ruth passed away this year. Dear old soul who was nowhere close to the harridan definition oft-passed off as the in-law.

And then there was Mr. Kurita. Not my father, but rather the father of Takako... the father-in-law to my friend Matthew. That's an image of him Matthew sent me a couple of months ago.

The year 2018 had death in it. And I'm sure many of you have felt it as well. And for those lucky enough to continue to grow older, we will unluckily continue to feel death again and again.

Sadness. Sure. Some believe it's merely "until we meet again".

The 26th of this month was my parent's anniversary. This year would have been their 55th.

I'm just rambling. An anagram of Andrew is Wander, so what do you expect?

On the plus side, my son turned 13 recently. I wonder if I will be around to see him grow up - because, hey, you never know.

In the meantime... I continue to write this blog everyday. Just as I have been doing every day since February of 2011... and I repeat the message, that if I fail to post a blog one day - something came up.

Keep well and safe, and we'll see what I can come up with for the next blog.

Andrew Joseph

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Burning Man Turning Japanese in 2019

Until I looked it up a few moments ago, I must admit that I have no concept of what Burning Man is all about. I know the KKK had its violent version years ago, as did the old Salem Witch Trials et al, and heck, I'm sure Joan of Arc would speak against burning.

But what is Burning Man, and why should anyone give a fug?

First off... the image above is the winning design chosen for the 2019 temple of the Burning Man, a Japan-inspired design of the thousand red torii gates of the Fushimi Inari Shrine.

Fushimi Inari Shrine... I said "inspired"...

More on that in a second.

I looked up Burning Man.

First off, it's not a festival. So don't call it the "Burning Man Festival".

Here are the 10 Principles of Burning Man as laid out by its co-founder, Larry Harvey, a kindred spirit with myself in that we don't have a typical surname. Or do we?
  1. Radical Inclusion: Anyone may be a part of Burning Man. We welcome and respect the stranger. No prerequisites exist for participation in our community.
  2. Gifting: Burning Man is devoted to acts of gift giving. The value of a gift is unconditional. Gifting does not contemplate a return or an exchange for something of equal value.
  3. Decommodification: In order to preserve the spirit of gifting, our community seeks to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising. We stand ready to protect our culture from such exploitation. We resist the substitution of consumption for participatory experience.
  4. Radical Self-reliance: Burning Man encourages the individual to discover, exercise and rely on his or her inner resources.
  5. Radical Self-expression: Radical self-expression arises from the unique gifts of the individual. No one other than the individual or a collaborating group can determine its content. It is offered as a gift to others. In this spirit, the giver should respect the rights and liberties of the recipient.
  6. Communal Effort: Our community values creative cooperation and collaboration. We strive to produce, promote and protect social networks, public spaces, works of art, and methods of communication that support such interaction.
  7. Civic Responsibility: We value civil society. Community members who organize events should assume responsibility for public welfare and endeavor to communicate civic responsibilities to participants. They must also assume responsibility for conducting events in accordance with local, state and federal laws.
  8. Leaving No Trace: Our community respects the environment. We are committed to leaving no physical trace of our activities wherever we gather. We clean up after ourselves and endeavor, whenever possible, to leave such places in a better state than when we found them.
  9. Participation: Our community is committed to a radically participatory ethic. We believe that transformative change, whether in the individual or in society, can occur only through the medium of deeply personal participation. We achieve being through doing. Everyone is invited to work. Everyone is invited to play. We make the world real through actions that open the heart.
  10. Immediacy: Immediate experience is, in many ways, the most important touchstone of value in our culture. We seek to overcome barriers that stand between us and a recognition of our inner selves, the reality of those around us, participation in society, and contact with a natural world exceeding human powers. No idea can substitute for this experience.
Radical only in its choice of words. It sounds... interesting. They call it a global cultural movement.

It is an annual week-long experiment in temporary community begun in 2000AD, and is dedicated to anti-consumerism and self-expression. Oh, and the end of the week, there is the symbolic burning of a large wooden sculpture of a man.

But it's NOT a festival.

Every year, the temple takes on a different form, and the 2019 version - the Temple of Direction is the creation of architect and artist George Van Der Bosch who lived in Japan for a while, but is now in the U.S.

The Temple of Direction is 180 feet (55 meters) across, and consists of 26 torii-ish gates that are smaller on the outside gaining in size as one moves inwards, creating a large central hall.

The concept for a Burning Man temple was introduced in 2000 as a memorial to a deceased friend of the organizer.

When the Temple of Direction is burned on the Sunday of Burning Man, it will be burned with the onlookers observing silence in respect for the deceased.

Burning Man 2019 takes places August 25 - September 2, 2019 at Black Rock Desert, Nevada, U.S.

Andrew Joseph
PS: All photos are courtesy of Burning Man.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

The Little-Known Legend Of Jesus In Japan

A mountain hamlet in northern Japan claims Jesus Christ was, and is, buried there...

Okay… this may seem like a strange story to appear given that today, December 25, is the birth date of Jesus, but since that date is entirely made up, and appropriated by Christians from the pagans… well…

So… how is it that Jesus Christ… THE big kahuna and founder of Christianity (actually, he didn’t found it… he just practiced what he preached, and others who liked what they saw pretty much founded Christianity), has no official grave marker?

He died atop Mount Calvary, was entombed in a cave, and after rising from the dead three days later, appeared to some witnesses who saw the stigmata holes in his hands (I’m pretty sure the nails would have torn right through his hands…), and then ascended up into the heavens to sit at the right hand of God.

Actually, according to Luke, the resurrected Jesus was not immediately recognizable, and that he could be touched, and could eat.

The resurrected Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene - whom many scholars suspect of having been the wife of Jesus… why else appear to her first, I ask.

So… one would think that the cave tomb would be a venerated site by the followers after learning of his resurrection. Even she did not recognize him at first.

Thomas saw him, but did not believe it was him until he touched the holes in his hands. We know him as Doubting Thomas, even though he believed after the hole thing.

Peter saw him later - Peter’s last Gospel says that Jesus went up to the heavens 40 days after his resurrection.

Saul of Tarsus also saw Jesus, talked with him, and converted to Christianity after a vision that left him blind for three days. Saul became Paul the Apostle who was one of the biggest missionaries spreading the word of Christ.

Got it?

So… Jesus died… was resurrected… did the whole walking dead thing, except he wasn’t dead… so undead thing, then ascended to heaven.

But what if that wasn’t really Jesus?

What if, that guy whom the Holy Bible talks about again as a 30-year-old, wasn’t Jesus.

Remember… there’s Jesus as a baby… we know the whole story… and then nothing… until he’s 30 and performing miracles.

Where did he go? The general consensus is that Jesus traveled the world, learning the best of different cultures and religions, and combined them into his own philosophy that we no know as Christian ideals.

I’ve dumbed it down. Sorry. There are multiple books on the subject, and while I know of many of them, to be honest, I haven’t read them.

I have read the Holy Bible, Torah, Koran, Tibetan Book of the Dead, and the Egyptian Book of the Dead.

Anyhow… I could go on and on and on writing about the Bible, but that’s not what you are here for.

You’re here for my obviously made up headline—only it’s not made up. I mean it is. I created it, but it is based on a Japanese story… and place to visit… all the way up in Hokkaido.

Meet Daitenku Taro Jurai… perhaps better known as Jesus Christ.

Apparently, according to local folklore in Shingo, Hokkaido, it was during Jesus’ travels, that he made it to northern Japan, met a farmer’s daughter named Miyuko, got married, had three kids, and grew garlic on his farm.

Oh, and he’s supposed to have lived to the ripe old age of 106.

But don’t we have written documentation that Jesus was crucified, died and was buried, and on the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures? Isn’t this what most of Christianity is based upon?

Has my whole life been a sham? Well, yes, but not because of this.

Jesus’ brother, Isukiri, is the one who was crucified, died and was buried, and on the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures… though apparently not, as only Jesus was the chosen one.

Jesus brother… I think that was James.

And yet, this tiny Japanese hamlet of Shingo, also claims to have Isukiri’s severed ear interred in an adjacent burial mound.

The hamlet of Shingo calls itself Kirisuto no Sato (Christ’s Hometown). Some 20,000 people, pilgrims and pagans journey there, pay the Y100 entrance fee at the Legend of Christ Museum and purchase christian souvenirs… stuff no good Christian can live or unlive without. Things like drink coasters and coffee mugs.

Yes, now you can really say: “Oh God, that’s good coffee”, and mean it.

Oh… the entire site is maintained by a yogurt factory, because… why not?

If you visit in the Spring, perhaps you will be lucky enough to see the Christ Festival… the Kirisuto matsuri… where kimono-clad women dance around the twin graves and chant a three-line litany in an unknown language. But it sounds good.

Apparently the ceremony - created ion 1964 by the local tourist board, is meant to console the spirit of Jesus.

Console him? For what? He found happiness with a Japanese babe, and despite being a gaijin (foreigner) seems to be more respected in Japan than Matthew and myself combined.

Here’s how the Shingo site (via a brochure) describes how Jesus got here: “Jesus first came to Japan at the age of 21 to study theology. This was during his so-called “lost years,” a 12-year gap unaccounted for in the New Testament. He landed at the west coast port of Amanohashidate, a spit of land that juts across Miyazu Bay, and became a disciple of a great master near Mount Fuji, learning the Japanese language and Eastern culture. At 33, he returned to Judea—by way of Morocco.”

After arriving back in Judea, and after being arrested by the Romans and sentenced to death by crucifixion, the hitherto never before heard of brother Isukiri agreed to switch places with Jesus.

As a souvenir, Jesus received Isukiri’s severed ear, and a lock of his mom’s hair, the no longer Virgin Mary. (Even if Isukiri is meant to be James, then that son was had with old man Joseph.)

“Immaculate conception? I can believe that because I saw our baby Jesus walk on the water when we went to the beach last week. But twice? Call me Cupid, not stupid,” said Jesus mixing up religions in this made-up quote.

Along with James, The Gospel of Mark 6:3 and the Gospel of Matthew 13:55–56 state that James, Joses (or Joseph), Jude and Simon were the brothers of Jesus, the son of Mary. The same verses also mention unnamed sisters of Jesus. 

After switching places with his younger brother, and to avoid the Romans find out out they were deceived, Jesus traveled across the frozen lands of Russia and Siberia to Alaska before sailing down to Hachinohe, and then by ox-cart to Shingo.

At Shingo, he created a new identity for himself, and while he did farm garlic, he did also tend to the sick and needy.

The museum brochure notes that Jesus (aka Daitenku Taro Jurai) had a distinctive nose… sometimes the locals called him a long-nosed goblin.

That’s not nice. See… even 2,000 years ago, gaijin were talked about behind their back.

Daitenku Taro Jurai also had a coat of many folds (I assume this would be a pleated robe), and when he got older, a balding gray pate. I see Jesus and I have something in common.

When he died, Daitenku Taro Jurai aka Jesus, his bones were left on a nearby hilltop to bleach for some four years, then bundled and buried in a grave… the grave there in Shingo… where they have now placed a wooden cross and surrounded it all with a picket fence.


Now I have had my fun, barely containing my sarcasm… but since the Bible does not mention Jesus in his kiddie, teens and 20s, just what the heck was he doing?

And… sure, he could have been saved by his brother, and thus his brother was crucified, died and was buried and rose again on the third day in fullfillment of the Scriptures.... but that would mean Jesus was a coward for saving his own skin and leaving his brother to die... especially when Jesus did NOT use the opportunity to continue spreading the word of God, but rather used his time on Earth to boink a Japanese babe. I don't blame him, but that's not cool. What about Mary Magdalene?

Would he really have traded a lifetime of persecution by the Romans for a life as a garlic farmer?

Because that’s what this Japanese story makes him out to be. A coward.

And that's why this Japanese story falls flat. The stories of Jesus show him as someone willing to do whatever it took to preach The Word of God.

Jesus had no problem putting himself out there to do what he needed to do.

And knowing that God, his father, told him he would have to die to ensure people would remember him, but that he would be granted a place in Heaven beside god, why would the prophet Jesus wig out and take off for Japan?

Is that why the Japanese are trying to soothe his spirit? Trying to assuage his guilt?

The Shingo hamlet states, however, that its villagers kept traditions alien to the rest of Japan.

For example, the hamlet’s men wore clothes that looked like the Middle Eastern robes of biblical Palestine.

Shingo women also wore veils. Babies were carried in woven baskets, plus the babies were covered in blankets that look like it had an embroidered Star of David.

Could this be possible? Or is this merely revisionist history?

Then again… apparently the area of Shingo does have a few words that are similar to Hebrew than to Japanese. It’s not unusual for villages to pick up different dialects and use different words for the same thing, owing to the remoteness seen even until as recently as 200 years ago…

Local dialect words include:

aba/gaga = mother (okasan is the standard Japanese term);
aya/dada = father (otosan)

Even the hamlet’s old name of Heraimura can be traced to an early Middle Eastern diaspora.

Could the descendants of of the 10 lost tribes of Israel?

If not, why did Israel ambassador Eli Cohen visit the tombs and dedicated a plaque in 2004, in Hebrew, that honors the ties between Shingo and Jerusalem?

Israel embassy spokesman Gil Haskel said that while Hebrew tribes could have migrated to Japan, the marker was merely “a symbol of friendship rather than an endorsement of the Jesus claims.”

Is it more likely that the graves in Shingo are actually the remains of a pair of Christian missionaries from the 1600s.

Christian missionaries first made their way to Japan in 1549 trying to convert the locals. But Christianity was forced into hiding by the Shogun after he banned it in 1614.

Even now, about one per cent of Japanese people are Christian.

Still, the Shingo museum via its pamphlet says that ancient manuscripts were found there describing Jesus’ time between Judea and Japan. And while these manuscripts were destroyed during WWII, the museum has a copy signed “Jesus Christ, father of Christmas” inside a glass case.

Plausible? Maybe. If it was written in the time of Jesus, it was Japan’s Yoyoi period… and they did not have a written language then.

I’ll just leave this whole Jesus of Japan thing here for now.

But do you know what is even more awesome… and something I bet most of you glossed over?

How did Jesus get to Japan? He traveled across Siberia and traveled across the waters to Alaska.

That would make Jesus the first “old-world” traveler to find/discover North America. He beat that Columbus guy by nearly 1480 years.

He beat those Vikings who landed at L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland, Canada by about 1,000 years…

Jesus discovered North America.

Sure. And Jesus built my hotrod. You can hear the slay bells... but you'll have to turn it up real loud.

Merry Daitenku Taro Jurai-mas.

Somewhere turning sake into water,
Andrew Joseph
PS: Photo at the top is via Mike Raybourne/Creative Commons

Monday, December 24, 2018

Keeping It Real - Clean

T'was the night before Christmas, and all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, no even a mouse. 

When I first arrived in my apartment in Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken, and placed my bags, down on the thin blue carpet that would be my living room for the next three years, I spied what I figured was a cockroach.

I had never seen a cockroach for real before - yes, in books, movies, and TV shows - but never up close and personal. I killed it.

I don't know if it was a cockroach. It was the middle of the afternoon.. it was bright and sunny in my apartment... would a cockroach be out and about? The place was clean... why there, why then?

Whatever... from that moment on, I knew I would never allow anything resembling a cockroach the opportunity to co-exist with me there in Japan.

Although I had never lived on my own before... had never cooked, cleaned or shopped for food in my life... I knew that no matter what, I would keep a tidy nest.

Besides... I had two days earlier met a woman - Ashley - down in Tokyo who would live in the town next door to my city, and I knew that any woman who would let me make-out with her, would have to be my girlfriend. And, despite being a virgin at nearly 26 years of age, I would make sure she knew I wasn't some slobby ex-frat boy.

If I was going to lose a girlfriend, it wouldn't be because I didn't know how to look after myself (which I didn't).

But I figured it out very quickly. I shopped for foods, initially, at the local Iseya grocery story, purchasing food items I recognized: Kellogg's Corn Flakes, milk, Coke, apples, eggs, bacon... and stuff like that.

I could cook eggs (I think), and knew how to pour milk into a bowl - I was set for a few days. And those apples... frickin' huge things... eating just half was akin to a full meal in itself.

Vacuuming? I did that back in Toronto... so it was no problem to vacuum some four times a week. Once I figured out why I had a hot water heater, and how not to blow myself up, I was doing laundry every other day. I was even ironing. I had seen my mother do that once, I think.

I even did the dishes as soon as I finished my meals, ensuring nothing dirty remained where a cockroach or any other critter might think to make itself at home in my home.

First impressions are soooo important, don't you think?

Tomorrow, for Christmas, I have a special story about that son of a carpenter.

Andrew Joseph

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Japanese "Crop Circles" Easily Explained

I must admit, that while I entertain the theory that Earth has been visited by aliens, and that there are indeed many different planets "out there" that have intelligent life, I have seen no proof of it myself.

Yes, I do like to think that the Roswell Incident of 1947 did indeed happen. I believed that Are 51 existed long before it was actually proven to exist, ending a decades long debate.

I mean, if a government can actually deny the existence of a frickin' military/scientific complex and get away with it for decades, why couldn't it have covered up an alien ship landing on Earth?

I have been less thrilled with such phenomenon as the Loch Ness Monster, and the Yeti, though a part of me hopes they DO exist like I hope the Sasquatch does.

Unfortunately, I think Nessie is probably nothing more than Greenland Shark. I've not seen any tangible evidence for a Yeti, but there are plenty of footprint casts of Sasquatch.

Like my old pal Fox Mulder of The X-Files TV show said: "I want to believe."

But that doesn't mean I believe in angels and demons or the City of Atlantis, though I would like to believe in ghosts.

But despite having a healthy bit of skepticism for things (prove it to me), I do remain open that they may exist.

But I sure as heck don't believe in crop circles as being anything more than human beings screwing around with boards to flatten grasses/crops into interesting geometric shapes.

But what to make of Japan's crop circles, seen as patterns in a forest up in Nichinan-shi (Nichinan City) in Miyazaki-ken (Miyazaki Prefecture)?

The photo above showing the two circles - are really there, and yes, they were created by human beings.

But it wasn't to mind-fug anyone.

Rather it was an experiment conducted by Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries begun over 50 years ago to measure tree growth.

The idea was to see if spacing trees a certain distance could affect the forest's growth.

Scientists planted cedar trees in 10-degree increments to form 10 concentric circles.

Nowadays, as evidenced by the photo, when viewed from above, the spacing provides a "fanning" pattern.

While the Ministry said it had plans to harvest the trees in a few years time, public interest in the circles has given it pause... for now. 

Andrew Joseph

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Old Fashioned Love Story Laid To Rest

Here it is… just over seven years and nine months later… after the March 11 earthquake-causing tsunami hit much of north east Japan, and not only are people still searching for the remains of loved ones, but they are finding them.

After eating lunch with his wife Sato Saiko (surname first), 60, and his mother a their home some 500 meters from the sea in Kesennuma, Miyag-ken, Saito Nobuyuki said good bye to his family with a simple “I’m going.”

It was a simple meal—instant ramen noodles with eggs and other ingredients added… I do the same to add more protein…

After the earthquake hit… and then the tsunami… it took Sato Nobuyuki a few hours to make his way back to his home, only to find the place demolished. His mother was there… dead in the wreckage.  

But his beloved wife of 40 years… her body was nowhere to be found.

Knowing she was dead, every month Saito and his former neighbours would gather at the nearby beach and dig through the sand looking for bones or something that belonged to a victim.

But on October 24, 2018, Hismitsugumi construction worker Saski Ren (surname first) was inspecting some heavy equipment near a a monument dedicated to disaster victims on Iwaisaki beach, when he saw something in the soil.

Saski,27, a former nurse, quickly realized it was human bones, and that they might be related to a victim of the disaster in 2011.

After local police were summoned, 57 officers dug through the soil in the area and discovered almost an entire human body.

On December 4, 2015, a police DNA examination and dental records check confirmed the remains as that of Sato Saiko.

She was found ~900 meters from where the Sato family house had once stood.

The now 67-year-old Sato Nobuyuki went to the police station to retrieve her remains, along with an apron and some other articles of theirs found by the search team.

“You must have been in pain,” Sato, 67, said to the remains of his wife, Saiko. “It must have been harrowing. You must have been anguished.”

A total of 1,220 Miyagi-ken residents are still declared as missing from the tsunami.

A total of of 9,540 bodies have been recovered in Miyagi, and only 10 have not yet been identified.

It sounds like they are getting there.

Unfortunately, unlike Ms. Sato, I’m sure a lot of the bodies were washed out to sea, with little chance of recovery of any skeletal remains.

Andrew Joseph

Friday, December 21, 2018

How Japan Copied American Culture and Made it Better

I'm going to send you to a Smithsonian magazine article shortly.

The article talks very well about how Japan takes an American concept and make it better.

The only knock against it is that it makes appear as though as this is a new thing.

Back in the 1940s-1960s, Japan was propped up by the U.S. to try and get it back onto its feet after it was nearly bombed back into the stone age by a pair of atomic bombs.

One way Japan got itself back, was via electronics. It didn't invent the radio or stereo, but what it did was take it, improve and in many cases make it smaller and more affordable.

Does anyone out there have a Japanese TV? My last two are Toshiba's. I don't look for a brand, I look for what is affordable but giving me the best bang for my buck.

Japan has also taken something as perfect as a Nestle Kit Kat chocolate bar and turned it on its frickin' ear creating flavors that make the world want to seek it out to try. Not only that, they market only certain flavors in certain parts of Japan meaning it has used KitKat (spelling is different in Japan) bars to encourage Japanese tourism. Brilliant.

You can check out my research and List of 180 KitKat flavors thus far confirmed in Japan, HERE.

You can also check out my list of Coca-Cola Japan brand Fanta drinks HERE.

I'll probably have to go back in and update the Fanta listing, as it's been two years. Wow... that long?

Anyhow... check out this Smithsonian article. You'll read about how Japan took such American things  as: bourbon, denim and hamburgers, and made them better... or at the very least Japanese.

Not only that, it's well-written and you'll learn something.


Andrew Joseph

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Pictorial Japan - Manchuria, TNT & The League Of Nations

I wasn’t sure where to begin with this 1937 tourist book from Japan for the English, French and German speaking people - Pictorial Japan. See HERE for more on this book.

(Caption for photo above: General view of "Potala," or P'u-t'ostungcheng Miao, Jehol. Jehol is fabulously rich in historical and cultural associations. Here, one is struck by the remarkably beautiful and peaceful land of the Summer Palace and Temples vividly manifesting the splendour of the past.)

So let’s start with the controversial stuff: Manchoukuo. We westerners know it as Manchuria.

The images contained in this article (except where noted) are all from Pictorial Japan. The photo cutlines are also from the book Pictorial Japan.

Manchoukuo was a puppet state of Japan located in northeast China and Inner Mongolia from 1932 until 1945. Though founded as a republic, in 1934 it became a constitutional monarchy. It had limited international recognition and was under the de facto control of Japan.

At the conclusion of WWII, the land was seized by the U.S.S.R. when the Soviets invaded in August of 1945, but it was formerly transferred to China in 1946.

Here’s what the book has to say about Manchuria, or Manchoukuo as the Japanese preferred calling it:

“Manchoukuo. most discussed nation of the world today, appeals to all classes of visitor, because of its vast plains, its people, their social customs and modern industrial progress.”

Wow. That would make me want to go there. Not.

North Mausoleum at Mukden, former capital of the Manchu Dynasty.
Of course Manchuria was (one of the) most discussed nations in the world today (1937).

It’s because of the Mukden Incident (also Manchurian Incident) - and not because Manchuria has suddenly become renowned for its beaches, mountains and wildlife.

No… the Mukden Incident was a staged event that gave the Japanese military the reason to invade.

Ever since the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905, Japan had wanted to have land, and thus a military presence closer to Russia, should the Russkies decide they wanted to try and take over Asia… after all, that was Japan’s ambition.
New Hsinking, capital of Manchoukuo in the making.
On September 18, 1931, Japanese officer Lt. Suemori Kawamoto exploded dynamite NEAR a railway line owned by Japan's South Manchuria Railway near Mukden (now Shenyang).

The planned explosion was very weak, and did not destroy the train track nor did it hurt anyone. In fact, a train passed over that section of rail mere minutes later.

Despite it having been planned by the Japanese, and exploded by a Japanese soldier, the Japanese Army blamed Chinese dissidents of the terrorist act.

In response to the “Chinese” attack, the Japanese Army responded with a full-on invasion, that eventually led to its occupation of Manchuria.

Stacks of soya beans, Manchoukuo's staple product, ready for transportation.
By the way… the invasion of Manchuria was done by the Japanese Army without authorization from the Japanese Government.

Six months later, the puppet state of Manchoukuo was created.

Now… despite Japan having gotten away with this fake reason for the invasion of Manchuria, the jig was up when the October 2, 1932 Lytton Report was released.

The Lytton Report was created by the Lytton Commission (led by Great Britain’s Victor Bulwer-Lytton), to examine the Mukden Incident which led to the Japanese seizure of Manchuria. The Commission was created by the League of Nations (a failed precursor to the United Nations).
The gentleman, second from the left, is pointing to the area where the small dynamite charge had been placed. They think.
The Report found that Japan had wrongfully invaded Manchuria, and that the land should be returned to China.

It should be noted that the Report NEVER said that the Mukden Incident had been faked. The report only mentioned the Japanese position that China was responsible for the explosion near the railway tracks.

It never said the Japanese claims were true or fake.

"Open-cut" workings in the S.M.R. Fushun Colliery, near Mukden.
The Report’s members did its best to not state that Japan had been the aggressor… yet when presented, it appeared as though it was Chinese vindication.

That point was made because simply setting off explosions NEAR a train track where there was no damage found, could hardly be acceptable for Japan’s claim of self-defense, leading to the invasion.

The plan was for both Japan and China to enter negotiations with each other with a timeline of three months, to properly resolve the incident.

On a vast Manchurian plain.
The report insisted that Japan withdraw its troops within the South Manchuria Railway zone, and recommended the establishment of an organization under the sovereignty of China deal with conditions in Manchuria (IE, stop dissidents) while taking into account the rights and interests of Japan. It also recommended a committee be formed to negotiate for these recommendations.

In September of 1932 - before the Lytton Report was revealed in October - Japan offered official diplomatic recognition to the government of Manchoukuo (its puppet state).

In February of 1933, a motion amongst the League of Nations was raised to condemn Japan the aggressor in the Mukden Incident, Japanese ambassador Matsuoka Yosuke (surname first) walked out.

Japan officially quit the League of Nations on March 27, 1933, and led to a period of isolation.

The United States warned Japan that any lands it acquired via conquest would not be recognized.

Still, what Japan did was to expose the League of Nations as an entity unable to enforce its actions.

Also, since the Mukden Incident occurred on September 18, 1931, and Japan walking away from the League of Nations on March 27, 1933, the one-and-a-half years allowed Japan to strengthen its presence in Manchuria… er, Manchoukuo.

Dairen's Main Wharf.
But here’s the kicker… the Lytton Report was started at the behest of Japan… who already knew everything was false.

It was merely a ruse by Japan to allow them to withdraw from the League of Nations so they could go about their merry way of working on their Asian war machine leading up to WWII.

It's why this whole 1937 tourist book - Pictorial Japan - is interesting.

It is war propaganda for French, German and English-speaking countries, with any official war going on.

Manchuria? You mean Manchoukuo. Naw, man... everything's cool. No one is being oppressed. We're even building infrastructure. Relax, world. Japan is here.    
Chinese acrobatic festive dance on stilts.
Andrew Joseph
PS: Excluding the railway photo, all images are by The Osaka Asahi, and while technically well-done, hardly show off any reason for a tourist to visit. Sure the stilt thing is cool, but a reason to travel to Manchuria? But I think that was the point. Don't visit, but see how nice it looks under Japanese rule. Rural, but modernizing with Japan's help.
PPS: By the way... the English used in this Japanese tourism book is absolutely superb. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Princess To Become Japan Empress In 5 Months

Yes, yes... Crown Prince Natuhito will ascend Japan’s throne in April after his father and current Emperor Akihito steps down owing to health reasons.

The abdication is quite the thing, as Japanese royal leaders have in the past remained the de facto head of the country until they die.

While Crown Prince Naruhito has been raised and born into the role of himself becoming Emperor one day, his wife, the Crown Princess Masako was not, having married into the royal family.

Masako and Naruhito were married in 1993. She was educated at Harvard and Oxford, and was on the upswing of a career as a diplomat before the marriage.

But, all the education in the world (or UK) apparently does not ready one for life as a Japanese royal.

She has come out to admitting she suffers from a stress-related disorder for many years, but adds that she is recovering slowly and will try to perform more royal duties.

Doctors for Masako say she suffers from "adjustment disorder”, caused by stress and can be linked to depression or anxiety.

Why the fug are doctors telling anyone about someone’s medical profile? Heck, that could have made the Crown Princess even more anxious or depressed!

Unless Masako gave them the okay to reveal her illness, it sure sounds like a complete breech of medical ethics and royal protocol.

My finance Noboko and I saw Masako and Naruhito in Nasushiobara, Tochigi-ken back in 1993. Or maybe just I did… Noboko was short, and the crowds swelling. I offered to place the babe up on my shoulders, but I suppose that simply would have looked undignified for a woman NOT a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert.

It was my first and only time involved in a crush to see a celebrity. Noboko and I happened to be in the area when we found out, so we went. The 30C+ heat threatened to melt poor Noboko’s brain as I tried to provide some shade for her with my taller frame… My brain baked, too, but I don’t think any one noticed me getting any stupider.

Back in 2001, the media created pressure for the Royals to have a male heir after the birth of their first-born Princess Aiko. Nice. That’s sarcasm.

The protective Crown Prince told Japanese media in 2004 that the Crown Princess had exhausted herself in trying to fit in to the royal palace life, and actually accused palace officials of doing things to try and negate her character and power. Wow.

Good for the Crown Prince!

Back when they were dating, Masako had severe doubts about the pressures of marrying into the royal family.

But, Crown Prince Naruhito told her: “ "You might have fears and worries about joining the imperial household. But I will protect you for my entire life."

Masako obviously accepted his proposal after that. Hell, I would have married him if he said that to me.

She has remained out of the public eye - generally speaking - since 2004.

Marking her 55th birthday on December 9 (born in 1963), Crown Princess Masako said via a statement: "Giving thought to the days ahead, I sometimes feel insecure about the extent to which I will be able to be of service to people. But I will strive to do my best so that I can contribute to their happiness."

So… with her husband set to become the next Emperor of Japan, and Masako herself set to become Empress, it sure sounds like she is putting on a brave face…

Of course, it’s what’s inside that truly matters… and I hope she can hold it together.

Andrew Joseph      

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Japan Pictorial - 1937 Tourist Industry Book

Sometimes, a guy just gets lucky with whom he becomes friends with.

I have long had that uncanny knack of meeting the right people - good people, who share my basic beliefs. Vinnie is one such person, a gentleman from the eastern U.S. who unselfishly continues to purchase books and send them to Japanese schools and libraries directly affected by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

About one month earlier, in February of 2011, I began my own journey of writing this blog from whenever the urge hit me, to an everyday event, where Vinnie, FFM, Alice, Rob and a few others have dutifully kept me writing by not only reading this blog, but also sending material or ideas that I could use to fashion more pieces to write about.

Why, this past Sunday I received mail from Canada Post is beyond me, but I did... and it was a box containing two souvenir Japan Nestle KitKat gift boxes... of which I will slowly taste and write about all 12 different flavors... but there was more.

Along with some cool looking stickers depicting famous ukiyo-e art from Hokusai, Vinnie also sent along a book entitled Japan Pictorial - Le Japon illustré - Japan in Bildern.

Produced by the Board of Tourist Industry, Japanese Government Railways (headquartered in Tokyo) in 1937, it is a cheeky photo book written in English, French and German touting the wonderful things the foreign tourist can see in Japan should they wish to visit Japan for the 1940 Tokyo XII Olympic Games and Japan International Exposition.

Why cheeky, you might ask?

Well, for those unaware, while World War II did not begin until September of 1939, and Japan not officially involved until December of 1941 when it attacked the American naval base of Pearl Harbor on the American protectorate of Hawaii... Japan had been involved in its own Asian war throughout the 1930s taking over Taiwan, Korea, and parts of China.

Yes, 1930s Imperial Japan was a bad motherfuc - shut yo mouth.

Anyhow, the Japan Pictorial book has pages devoted to tourism on Chosen. In this case, the Chosen ones are Korea.

In the Korean language, the two Koreas use different terms to refer to the nominally unified nation: Chosŏn (조선, 朝鮮) in North Korea and Hanguk (한국, 韓國) in South Korea. Ethnic Koreans living in China and Japan also use the term Chosŏn to refer to Korea.

Yes... there is a spelling difference in how the Koreans spell it versus the Japanese.

Officially, Korea under Japanese rule began with the end of the short-lived Korean Empire in 1910 and ended at the conclusion of World War II in 1945.

It all began with the Japan–Korea Treaty of 1876, whereby a complex coalition of the Meiji government, military, and business officials sought to integrate Korea both politically and economically into the Empire of Japan.

A major stepping-stone towards the Japanese occupation of Korea was the Japan–Korea Treaty of 1905, in which the then-Korean Empire was declared a protectorate of Japan.

The annexation of Korea by Japan was set up in the Japan–Korea Treaty of 1910, which was never actually signed by the Korean Regent, Gojong.

The Japan Pictorial book also has a section for Taiwan's Formosa. I admit to not knowing anything about Formosa, and perhaps just a wee bit about Taiwan. I apologize for my ignorance in this manner.

Wikipedia says that: the Republic of Formosa (Chinese: 臺灣民主國; pinyin: Táiwān mínzhǔ guó; literally: "Taiwan Democratic State"), was a short-lived republic that existed on the island of Taiwan in 1895 between the formal cession of Taiwan by the Qing Dynasty of China to the Empire of Japan by the Treaty of Shimonoseki and it being taken over by Japanese troops.

The Republic of Formosa was proclaimed on May 23, 1895 and extinguished on October 21, 1895, when the Republican capital Tainan was taken over by the Japanese, ending resistance and leading to five decades of Japanese rule through to the end of WWII.

This Japanese rule of Taiwan also include the Penghu Islands. The 1895 battle was Japan's first step towards its goal of ruling Asia via southern expansionism, and was Japan's first colony.

After WWII, Taiwan was placed under control of the Republic of China, with Japan formally ceding its rights to Taiwan in April of 1952.

Lastly, the Japan Pictorial book offers a section on Manchoukuo, formerly Manchuria, a puppet state of Japan in northeast China and Inner Mongolia from 1932 until 1945. It was founded as a republic, but in 1934 it became a constitutional monarchy.

The area, collectively known as Manchuria, was the homeland of the Manchus, including the emperors of the Qing dynasty. In 1931, the region was seized by Japan following the Mukden Incident and a pro-Japanese government was installed one year later with Puyi, the last Qing emperor, as the nominal regent and later emperor. Manchukuo's government was dissolved in 1945 after the surrender of Japan at the end of World War II.

The territories formally claimed by the puppet state were first seized in the Soviet invasion of Manchuria in August 1945, and then formally transferred to Chinese administration in the following year.

What is interesting about the book, is that Japan's tourist boards wants foreigners to come and visit lovely Japan and see not only all the main islands have to offer, but also to come and see all of the land it had recently annexed.

While I certainly am going to do 12 blogs on the different KitKat bars I was presented with, I am also going to take my time and show you some of the Japan Pictorial book.

Despite the ugliness of trying to show off its annexed lands of China, Korea and Taiwan as being part of the growing Japanese empire, the photography of the magazine depicting Japan is less about patriotism and more about tourism.

Unlike Nazi Germany which liked to litter its books and magazines et al with the haken kreutz (hooked cross) symbology (it's NOT a swastika - see HERE for a book from Stone Bridge Press), the Japanese flag nor any of its war flags are visible within this book.

This 1937 book makes it seem as though Japan is same, fun and mysterious, and that the tourist has nothing to fear.

It's quite exciting, and I look forward to showing you some of the photos from inside Japan Pictorial over the next few days. 

Kanpai, Vinnie.
Andrew Joseph

Monday, December 17, 2018

Ultraman Live Action Reboot For International Release

If you don't have Netflix now, you might consider it for 2019. Ultraman is back.

Starlight Runner Entertainment is working with Tsuburaya Productions of Tokyo to help expand the Ultraman universe outside of Japan - hopefully with a live-action streaming series.

I loved watching Ultraman as a kid. I caught the television series re-runs back when I was about seven-years-old in the early 1970s here in Toronto... perhaps getting it off the Grand Island, New York channel (29, I believe).

My friend Umberto and I would pretend we were the monsters and Ultraman (taking turns), and play wrestle on his parent's living room floor. 

The original Ultraman series, Ultra Q, debuted in 1966, and was quickly followed up by Ultraman that same year, which focused on Hayata of the Science Patrol (of Earth), and an anti-monster defense force with the aim of protecting our planet from antagonistic alien forces. 

Hayata is an alien, I think, who has the ability to transform into the giant alien Ultraman to help defeat these extraterrestrial beings. 
In Japan, the Ultraman franchise has since gone on to include dozens of television series, with the most recent being Ultraman R/B, as well as films, video games, manga and more. 
A computer-animated series, ULTRAMAN, is set for a 2019 release on Netflix.
Tsuburaya is hoping to restore the Ultraman series outside of Japan, with Starlight partnering with The Licensing Group to reboot the franchise across various platforms in multiple international markets.

“Ultraman is one of my greatest childhood heroes. We’re honored to be embarking on this mission to bring this family of characters back to the world stage,” says Starlight Runner chief executive officer Jeff Gomez .

Andrew Joseph

Sunday, December 16, 2018

My Godzilla Green Thumb

What we have here is a photo of a small gift given to me by my friend Rob, who is forever doing such ice things for me, such as also getting me some old comic books on the cheap. Thanks, buddy.

The gift mentioned above, however, is a little Godzilla toy, where if you press the upper back scales of Godzilla, he emits a recorded roar and a "radioactive" blue beam appears in his mouth.

It also came with a small booklet of fun colored line-drawn Godzilla stickers.

I know, I know... kid's stuff... but I'm an old kid.

Maybe too old. When I put my thumb to those scales to try and press down to make Godzilla roar, it actually hurts my thumb.

If it's not radioactivity, it's the pointy scales.

Still... a cool present which will find its way onto my desk at work. It will help personalize the place along with my organized chaos of papers and USB sticks.

Andrew Joseph