Archive for category Japan

Aug
14

We are just hamsters in a wheel

Posted by on Monday, 14 August, 2006

Just read this: Japan Railway passengers to generate electricity at train stations (via: Newsvine) and it got me thinking that we are just a few steps away from being hamsters in wheels in full Matrix style…. OK, maybe not yet… :-)

Anyway, I’m back from my vacation by the way. End of the drought, I hope!

Jul
24

Various snapshots from Japan

Posted by on Monday, 24 July, 2006

I have collected quite a few funny and interesting photos on my cellphone, snapshots I have taken when I saw something that really caught my eye. I figured I got enough for a blog post, so here you go! Hover over the photo for a description, click to view the whole photo.


Go Dickies!
'Nice Guys' head piece
'Playboy' head piece
Heldass - great name for a diet supplement!
A classic: the women's lap pillow
Square-shaped melon!
Panchiettr (?!)
Ginza Chuo-Dori on a Saturday

In case you are looking for the “joke” or “funny part” in that last photo… there is none, I just wanted to post post how Ginza now looks on Saturdays and Sundays – when theyu turn Chuo-Dori into a no-car zone. Recently they have put out some tables and chairs in the middle of the street for people to sit and relax. It’s really really nice, actually.

By the way, a few months ago, I posted another batch of these kinds of photos, check that post out here.

Jul
23

Stormtrooper spreads Firefox

Posted by on Sunday, 23 July, 2006

Do you know who Danny Choo is? If you don’t, you’ve missed one of Tokyo’s current cultural institutions.

Anyway, the Stormtrooper lended a helping hand to the Mozilla Foundation when they were spreading Firefox in Akihabara the other day. Numerous young lasses dressed up as maids (what else?) was spreading a good cause among the otakus roaming Akihabara. Not that there is anything wrong with being either an otaku or walking around in Akihabara for that matter! But these marketers sure know their target group!

Anyway, having Danny dressed up in his Stormtrooper gear made the whole event look even more surreal! Here he is trying to convince the Marketing Director of Dell Japan to install Firefox in all new PCs.

Dell and Stormtrooper

Jul
17

Kiefer Sutherland digs Calorie Mate

Posted by on Monday, 17 July, 2006

Japan is infamous for paying big bucks for Hollywood stars to come over here and participate in various commercials, ranging from consumer loans (Beckhams), coffee (Tiger Woods et al), cars (everyone) and diet supplements (Kiefer Sutherland). I don’t really know why this type of advertising is so successful here; I guess regular people love to identify with celebrities and if they can eat/drink/do something which a big shot superstar also endorses (albeit only in a commercial) they will happily use it.

These Calorie Mate commercials with Kiefer Sutherland in his Jack Bauer role (24) are a bit old, but they are so hilarious. Thanks to Tokyo TImes for reminding me of them.

Jack struggles through a packed women-only train in rush hour:

Jack politely refusing a souvenir from his partner during a chase:

Jack has some trouble with a loaned vehicle during a pursuit:

Jul
17

Whats the deal with Bar Row?

Posted by on Monday, 17 July, 2006

Everytime I listen to AFN (or specifically, Eagle 810, as the local variety of Armed Forces Network is called here) there are always these amusing PSAs being blasted about 100 times per hour. One of the more fascinating ones refer to a place called “Bar Row” in Fussa City, which is where the Yokota Air Base is located. The PSA goes something like this:

Remember that service personnel are not allowed to be within a one block radius of Akasen-dori in Fussa city, otherwise known as “Bar Row”, between the hours of 1 am and 6 am.

This has intrigued me for the last few months, because there was never any explanation (figures, being a military radio station) and I can’t recall reading or hearing about it anywhere else. So, I decided to use good old GOOGLE to find out for myself why this restriction was in place. Oh, did I ever find some interesting stuff!

FIrst of all; this is the official announcement made by the US Embassy in June 2005 about it:

Yokota Base Command has issued an order prohibiting servicemembers from being within a one block radius of Akasen-dori in Fussa city (near the base), otherwise known as “Bar Row”, between the hours of 1 am and 6 am. The order comes after a series of crimes, altercations and assaults at Bar Row involving base personnel, including one last weekend that left two airmen seriously wounded. Civilians are advised to exercise caution should they choose to enter the area.

Wow! Reading that, it sounds like the poor American soldiers are being assaulted by some bad people when they are innocently partying outside the gates. It really sounds like the Americans are the victims here. I decided to do some more digging, and I came up with some slightly more elaborate and different accounts of why the ban had come in place.

Alex at Rainbow Trite writes:

Yokota Air Force Base is INFAMOUS for the number of DUI’s that take place on a weekly basis. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday Nightly, select uniformed men and women are out carousing and rejoicing, heeing and hawing, and, against their better judgment, drinking and driving.

The base doesn’t publicize these “happenings”. No one hears about them or even has an inkling until Colonel Schissler is on the TV, making a plea that we not drink and drive. This, I blame on higher command. People should be made aware of the problem.

This I found in the base’s own newsletter, making it blatantly obvious who is to blame for the restrictions:

Since the restriction came into place, the number of incidents has dropped to almost zero. Fussa City officials have also noticed a
sharp decline in the amount of noise complaints they receive from citizens living between Bar Row and Yokota.

Yes, I know that the area around the base is not generally the nicest neigborhood in Japan, and that there are rumours of some yakuza presence etc., but still, drunken, loud, cocky American soldiers rumbling around at night causing all sorts of ruckus and provoking fights with the locals does seem like a reasonable explanation to me. Way to show your appreciation for your Japanese hosts.

Oh, and while I’m on this American-bashing high (sorry, it wasn’t meant to be this harsh…), GW Bush – what is with the SLICED PIG!??