iNJAPAN


Hello Kitty Hell
April 22, 2008, 1:21 am
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Japan is well known for its’ crazy character business. As much as they love anime, the Japanese people love cute characters, and they put them on everything.

Among those characters, Hello Kitty is the best-known character in the world. Hello Kitty was created in 1974 by the Sanrio Company in Tokyo, Japan.

Hello Kitty has been marketed in the U.S. since 1983, and has held the position of U.S. children’s ambassador for UNICEF.

Although it was originally aimed at the pre-adolescent female market, the Hello Kitty logo now adorns products for all ages. The goods use to be mainly school supplies and stationery products, but now its popularity has penetrated every aspect of Japanese daily life.

Hello Kitty products range from

foods…
Hello Kitty Food
(yes, it’s actually a Hello Kitty branded onto a sausage-_-;;)

phones…
Hello Kitty Phone

instruments…
Hello Kitty Instruments
(the Grand Piano is sold for 68,520yen, approximately $68,000.)

cars..
Hello Kitty Ferrari
(an actual Hello Kitty Ferrari)

Hello Kitty Exhaust Pipe
…plus a cute?? Hello Kitty exhaust pipe..

weapons
Hello Kitty Gun
(Yup. An actual real gun.)

…jets
Hello Kitty Jet

…to a Hello Kitty Darth Vadar. -_-;;
Hello Kitty Darth Vadar
(how far do you think this guy got without getting beaten up?)

The craziest new thing?

HELLO KITTY TOMBSTONES.

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Honor system
April 21, 2008, 4:53 pm
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I’ve mentioned earlier in my ‘Vending Machines of Japan‘ post that everything is up to the honor system in Japan.

This story is a story that clearly illustrates that point. It is so incredibly Japanese.

KOFU — A man has scattered dozens of 10,000-yen notes from pedestrian overpasses here, police said.
At about 3:20 p.m. on Friday, a passer-by spotted a man scattering 10,000-yen notes from a pedestrian overpass along a prefectural highway in the Marunouchi district of Kofu, and alerted police. Another passer-by picked up 10 of the bills, and submitted them to a local police station.

At about 4 p.m., 35 10,000-yen bills were scattered from a pedestrian overpass over Route 358, about 600 meters away from Marunouchi. Investigators said the same man may have been responsible for both cases.

Source: Mainichi

Only in Japan, ONLY in Japan would this kind of thing happen. You know what I’m talking about.

Passerby 1: Hey, look…that guy is dumping money out onto the street!
Passerby 2: Wow, he sure is!
Passerby 1: Well, that’s not right…I’ll call the police.
Passerby 2: I’ve picked up about $1000, I’ll go turn it in.

And this was only the first story. They found loads of money dumped in all sorts of places around Japan. And everyone’s been turning it in! Who is doing this? Why doesn’t he come to Austin? If I found some of these bundles of cash…shit, I wouldn’t be here writing this now. I’d be buying a first class ticket to Tokyo for a shopping trip.

I honestly can’t believe they just turned it in.
But that’s Japan for you.

Here’s another story.

MIYOSHI, Aichi — A man who had just been released from prison has been arrested for strangling the wife of an acquaintance after she refused to allow him to stay at her home, police said.
Haruyoshi Arai, 58, is accused of murdering the victim, believed to be 77-year-old Ayako Uchida, at her apartment in Miyoshi.

Arai admitted to the allegations during questioning. “I was just released from jail and had no place to stay. I asked Uchida, the wife of a deceased acquaintance, to allow me to stay at her home. After she rejected my request, I got furious and killed her,” he was quoted as telling investigators.

At about 9:10 p.m. on Thursday, prefectural police received an emergency call from Arai, saying that he killed a woman at her apartment. Officers rushed to the scene and found the woman lying on the floor. She was rushed to hospital where she was pronounced dead about two hours later.

The officers took Arai into custody after he admitted having strangled her.

Source: Mainichi

Again, I love the Japanese honesty here. “Hello, 911? You guys need to come down here and arrest me, I just killed a person.” I used to wonder why there weren’t any good cop shows or legal-based court shows in Japan like CSI, Rescue 911, or Court TV, but I realize now it’s because that shit would be boring as hell.

Cops: (arrive on scene) What’s going on here?
Man: You’ll notice the body of my dead wife there on the floor. I killed her a few minutes ago.
Cops: Sir, is this true?
Man: Why yes, it is. She didn’t have dinner ready, so I had to put her in her place. I may have overdone it.
Cops: We’ve just confirmed, this woman is most definitely dead.
Man: Well then, that makes me a murderer, doesn’t it? You’d better arrest me.
Cops: Anything else you need to tell us?
Man: I roughed up a cheap whore last week too. She probably isn’t going to say anything…but I just want to clear the air on that one.
Cops: Okay. Thank you for your cooperation.

I think this is also why Japan’s percentage of solved crimes are so high. Until the 1990s, Japan had a crime solving rate of more than 70%, which was one of the highest in the world. In comparison, the U.S. had a solving rate of a mere 20%. That means, if you committ a crime in the U.S., you’re probably going to get away with it.



Studio Ghibli
April 20, 2008, 5:32 am
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Studio Ghibli is like the Walt Disney of Japan. It was founded in 1985, headed by the acclaimed director Miyazaki Hayao.
The name ‘Ghibli’ comes from an Italian word that means ‘hot wind,’ because they believed the studio was going to blow a new wind into the Japanese anime industry. So far they have succeeded. Everybody in Japan grew up watching Ghibli movies, as well as Koreans and Chinese.

Anime created by Studio Ghibli that have won the Animage Anime Grand Prix award have been Castle in the Sky in 1986, My Neighbor Totoro in 1988, and Kiki’s Delivery Service in 1989.

Kiki’s Delivery Service was the first Studio Ghibli film released under the Disney/Studio Ghibli deal, and was premiered in the U.S. at the Seattle International Film Festival on May 23, 1998.

The first Studio Ghibli movie that I saw was My Neighbor Totoro. I actually think it was the first movie I’ve ever downloaded on the Internet and watched on my computer. I was about 13 or 14, and I loved the cute characters, the peaceful scenery, and the subtle meanings behind the childish acts.

My favorite Ghibli movie to this day is Princess Mononoke. I absolutely love it. It was released in 1997, and it is rich with action, beauty, and wild imagination. It is a jidaigeki (period drama) set in late Muromachi period of Japan, and centers on the struggle between the supernatural guardians of a forest and the humans who consume its resources, as seen by the outsider Ashitaka.
You can also get a good glimpse of how the Japanese used to worship everything, and believed every animal and object had a spirit.

The movie that got the most attention was Spirited Away, released in 2001. The film received many awards, including the second Oscar ever awarded for Best Animated Feature, the first anime film to win an Academy Award, and the only winner of that award to win among five nominees (in every other year there were three nominees). The film also won the Golden Bear at the 2002 Berlin International Film Festival (tied with Bloody Sunday).
The movie has many complex themes, including growing up in a world mixed with modern innovations and traditional rules, and about the corruption of the world by greed.
This movie also has so many unique characters and is also very Japanese. The majority of the story is based in a public bathhouse where gods go to wash themselves, which is a perfect way to show various aspects of traditional Japanese culture and mindset.



Vending Machines in Japan
April 18, 2008, 4:57 pm
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According to the Japan Vending Machine Manufacturers Association, Japan has one of the highest vending machine densities. Apparently there are about 5.6 million vending machines in Japan, making it the country with the highest number of vending machines per capita, with about one machine for every 23 people. Vending machines can be found all over the country, and the range of variety of the machines is mind-blowing.

Since Japan is a pretty small country full of people on the run, it’s really convenient to use machines to make sure that people can buy what they need whenever they want, without having to go inside a store. Also, Japanese people have one of the most private lives in the world. How the society views them, and what they will look like in other people’s eyes is very important. So buying items from machines instead of people allow them to avoid being embarassed or worried about whether the store clerk will judge them for buying certain items.

Here are a few of the really unique types of vending machines that you won’t see in other countries.

Egg vending machine

Egg Vending Machine

The eggs are separated into different amounts and types, and if you put the money in, the door to the compartment that holds the eggs you want will open. The eggs are brought in every morning, fresh from the poultry farm.

Umbrella vending machine

Umbrella Vending Machine

You can see these machines mostly in subway stations or near bus stops. No need to run around getting soaked while you look around for a store.

Hot Ramen/Udon Noodles vending machine

Ramen/Udon Vending Machine

Insert your money, wait about 3 minutes, and you get freshly cooked, hot Udon noodles or Ramen noodles for lunch.

Rhinoceros Beetle vending machine

Rhinoceros Beetle Vending Machine

For some weird reason, Japanese people love Rhinoceros Beetles. It is very common for a boy to have a beetle as a pet. They usually put them in little boxes and carry them around in their pockets. Used almost like a Pokemon, boys will whip out their beetles and make them fight each other. This vending machine sells Rhinoceros Beetles – Males for 300 yen, and females for 100 yen.

Beer vending machine

Beer Vending Machine

Yes. They actually sell BEER in vending machines. Do they have problems with minors buying beer? Of course. But it’s Japan. Everything is up to the honor system.

Cigarette vending machine

Cigarette Vending Machines

Same thing as beer machines. I heard that some of them have a system where you have to insert your driver’s license first, though. But still, teenagers will be teenagers, and they will find ways to smoke anyways. And smoking when you’re young is pretty common in Japan. Actually smoking is common. period. Even in fast food restaurants, they will offer you an ashtray with your meal.

All right. Now here comes the crazy part.

Porn vending machine

Porn Vending Machine

THEY SELL PORN IN VENDING MACHINES!!!!
Don’t be distracted by the Coke machine in front. That’s only there for the people who get too thirsty from drooling at the porn. These porn vending machines are pretty common, and usually during the daytime they are covered in curtains or a hut like this one. (To protect the privacy of the porn-buyer.) They sell both porn magazines and DVDs.

The machines inside look like this.

Porn Vending Machine (inside)

Porn Magazine Vending Machine

The next one is the sickest thing I’ve ever heard of.
It goes with the whole, ‘Japanese people endorse sex with minors’ thing.

“Used” Schoolgirl Panties vending machine

Used Schoolgirl Panties Vending Machine
They range from 1000 yen to 3000 yen, which is about 10 U.S. dollars to 30 dollars. I don’t know where they get ‘used’ panties from, and I don’t even want to know. And I really don’t want to know what the difference between a 1000 yen panty and a 3000 yen panty is.
All I know is that it’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard of.
I can’t belive their government allows this kind of thing.



Learning to say ‘I love you’
April 8, 2008, 5:17 am
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The link below is a link to a video which is part of a package called “Tokyo Stories” done by the Washington Post.
All of the stories in the Tokyo Stories are good, but the one below called “Learning to Say ‘I Love You'” is really interesting and funny and shows a unique part of the Japanese culture.
I really wish I could just embed it, but WordPress doesn’t support the embed tag, and I don’t have a webhost to install plugins, so a link will have to do for now. I know, I hate clicking on outside links myself, but this one you won’t regret. It’s pretty hilarious.

>>Click to watch “Learning to Say ‘I Love You'”

The story is about an organization called “National Chauvanistic Husbands Association,” which is an organization that teaches men how to deal with their wives and avoid getting divorced.

The very idea of the organization is kind of funny, and what they do at their meetings is even funnier.
I think the best part is where they chant in unison,
“I can’t win. I won’t win. I don’t want to win.”

I Can\'t Win

Haha. That’s girl power in work, right there.

I also understood their view though, when one of the guys said that saying “I love you” is a serious thing in Japan, and it is really hard to say it. When I watched this video with some other American friends, they seemed confused about that statement. However, as a Korean, we’re also kind of like that so I understood.

Like, in the U.S., everybody says ‘I love you’ to anybody. When a total stranger comes up to you and gives you some help or something, you shout out “Oh my god, I love you. You just saved my life.” Or something like that. It may not mean that you really love that person, but it’s just an expression that is okay to use. In Korea, or Japan, if you say “I love you” to a stranger that helped you, you are immediately treated like a psycho stalker. Even to friends, you rarely say that you love them, unless it’s like in a serious letter and your friend is dying or something. And for guys it’s even worse. In the U.S. it’s okay for a guy to talk about his friend and say, “man, I love that dude. He’s my boy.” But in Asia, it’s a big huge No-No. I’ve never heard a guy saying that he loves his friends.

I guess it’s because of the whole, ‘you’re not supposed to show your emotions’ thing in Asia. You’re trained so much to hide your feelings and always be super polite and considerate that you get used to masking your true feelings. You have to think, and re-think, every word you say before you actually say it. It’s totally the opposite in the U.S. where being honest and showing your true emotions is really important. I think that’s why Asian people are considered as ‘shy’ or ‘mysterious.’

For me, the whole issue of learning to communicate better in a relationship comes closer to heart since I am a Korean girl dating an American guy. Apparently, Asian women are better at communicating than Asian guys are, but compared to American guys, they’re still pretty horrible. Or maybe it’s just me. But in any case, I drive my boyfriend crazy, and he drives me crazy. I think he is rude for expressing every thought he has, even though they may be offensive to me, and he thinks I am rude for not saying what I think.

BF: Is it okay if I leave you alone here while I go talk to my friend for a while?
Me: Okay:)
….BF leaves and then comes back. I’m visibly upset.
BF: What the fu**?? You said it was okay with you.
Me: Well.. It was nice and polite of me to say that I was okay with it. You should’ve been nice and polite in return, and considered that I might not be okay. Then you should’ve decided on your own to not do it. Better yet, you should not have suggested it in the first place.
BF: *&#*$&#$^*#&@$^^$&^!!!!!!!!!

Conversations like this usually end with him saying,
“God, you make me want to drink.”

I’ll already be drinking, without saying a word.



Comfort Women
April 5, 2008, 6:53 am
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While we are on the topic of old women, I want to talk about a very serious crime that Japan committed during World War II.

During World War II, the Japanese military either deceived women into volunteering with fradulent promises of jobs and salaries, or outright kidnapped them, in order to use them as sex slaves.
These women were called Comfort Women (慰安婦, ianfu), and about 100,00 – 200,000 are estimated to have been procured, but there is a lot of controversy about the actual numbers. Historians and researchers have stated that the majority were from Korea and China, but women from the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan, the Dutch East Indies, Indonesia, and other Japanese-occupied territories were also used in “comfort stations”.

In the late 1890s, several old Korean women came forward and talked about how they were raped and used as sex slaves. Most of them were unmarried and had stayed quiet because they were ashamed of their past. As their story got out, the Korean people were enraged that their women had been grossly abused in such a way, and began to seek ways to obtain an official apology from Japan.

Demonstration of Comfort Women

Demonstration of Comfort Women
Korean Comfort Women demonstrating in front of the Japanese embassy.

In 1990, the Korean Council for Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery filed suit, demanding compensation. Several surviving comfort women also independently filed suit in the Tokyo District Court. The court rejected these claims on grounds such as statute of limitations, the immunity of the State at the time of the act concerned, and non-subjectivity of the individual of international law.

Below is part of the testimony of Oksun Jung, an 87-year-old Korean lady who was used as a comfort woman. The testimony was submitted to the United Nation’s Human Right’s Council as a plea to support Korea’s motion to obtain an apology from Japan.

“I was born on Dec. 28, 1920, in Hamgyungnam-Do Poongsan-Gun. I was 13 years old when I went out to draw water from the well one day so that I could prepare lunch for my parents who were working in the fields. On my way, an armed Japanese soldier kidnapped me. My parents never knew what happened to me. They put me in a truck and I was gang-raped by many military policemen. As I screamed, they stuffed a sock in my mouth and continued to rape me. I continued to cry out, the police chief hit me in my left eye, and I have been blind in that eye ever since.

After about 10 days, I was moved to a military camp in Hyean. There were about 400 Korean girls there, and we had to entertain 5,000 Japanese military men everyday. On average it was about 40 men a night for each girl… It was horrible. One guy burned matches on my private parts until they bled, when I refused to have sex with him.

One Korean girl demanded to know why she had to have sex with 40 men per day. The Commander-in-Chief Yamamoto ordered to cut her head off. The soldiers rolled her naked body around on a board with nails sticking out of it until her skin was shredded and she was bleeding all over, and then beheaded her, and made all of us watch. Yamamoto said, “Killing you girls is easier than killing a dog.”

…One day they put 40 girls in a truck and drove them to a ditch they had dug and filled up with water. I watched in hiding as they pushed the girls one by one into the ditch and buried them alive.”

Comfort Women

Even with these horrifying testimonies, the UN and the U.S. refused to take action because they did not want to risk their relationship with Japan.

The Koreans persisted, and gained strength as they were joined by women in other countries, mainly China, Phillipines, and Dutch.
Demonstration of Phillipine Comfort Women

In 1995, Japan set up an “Asia Women’s Fund” for atonement in the form of material compensation and to provide each surviving comfort woman with a signed apology from the then prime minister Tomiichi Murayama. However, the funds were not from the government but from private firms, and was a way for the Japanese government to avoid admitting government abuse.

Finally, as the grievances against Japan’s war crimes got louder, the UN conducted a research, and in 1998, Gay J. McDougall, Special Rapporteur to the United Nations Human Rights Commission released Contemporary Forms of Slavery, and listed findings regarding Japan’s guilt and liability.
following the report, Japan begrudgingly apologized in 2003.

However, on 2 March 2007, the issue was raised again by Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, when he denied that the Japanese military had forced women into sexual slavery during World War II in an orchestrated way. He stated, “The fact is, there is no evidence to prove there was coercion.”
Abe’s statement enraged Asian and Western countries, especially of Koreans.

Following Abe’s statement, Mike Honda of the United States House of Representatives proposed House Resolution 121 which stated that Japan should formally acknowledge, apologize, and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner, refute any claims that the issue of comfort women never occurred, and educate current and future generations “about this horrible crime while following the recommendations of the international community with respect to the ‘comfort women’.” Honda has stated that “the purpose of this resolution is not to bash or humiliate Japan.” However, the Japanese embassy in the U.S. stated that the Resolution was erroneous in terms of the facts and that it would be harmful to the friendship between the US and Japan.

The scariest part about the Japanese governement, other than their complete lack of remorse, is that they systematically prevent their younger generation from knowing about their crimes.
Former education minister Nariaki Nakayama declared he was proud that the Liberal Democratic Party had succeeded in getting references to “wartime sex slaves” struck from most authorized history texts for junior high schools.
You can ask any kid on the street in Korea and they’ll know what Japan did to the comfort women. But if you ask the Japanese people, most of them have never even heard of comfort women.

Japan still has not given a formal apology for their war crimes.



Crazy Asian Women
April 5, 2008, 5:19 am
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On a lighter note…

Everyone knows that Asian women are known for being crazy, especially on the road.
From watching my friends and myself drive – putting on EYELINER (which is freaking hard even to do when you’re sitting still), and writing papers on their laptops… honestly, I can’t deny it.

But also, I think we Asian women have the right to be crazy since we are apparently INDESTRUCTIBLE.
And among us, the old Japanese women, the venerable Obaasans are hands down the strongest.

Obaasan means Grandmother in Japanese, but it is also used as a generic term for an old lady.

The Obasaans either wear simple kimonos or yukatas, or if they are wearing western clothes, they wear woolen cardigans. They are always bent over and walk very slowly and gently, and look very sweet and weak.

Most people think they are bent over with rheumatism and old age, but no, no, NO – it’s because of the weight of all the baseball bats, wooden canes, steel pipes, and maybe machine guns they are hiding under their cardigans. If you try to sit down in an empty seat in the subway, BAM, she’ll whip out one of her weapons and take the seat in a blink of an eye. You’ll barely know what hit you.

The fact that Yone Minagawa was the oldest woman alive in the world until last year when she passed away, is a good example of how indestructible old Japanese women are.

Here are a few articles about invincible obaasans. If you aren’t convinced after reading these, you are someone who just can’t see logic.

OSAKA — A 70-year-old woman who was attacked on a street in Osaka managed to foil her would-be robber by kicking him in the crotch, police said.
At about 9 p.m. on Tuesday, the attacker grabbed the woman from behind and covered her mouth before pushing her onto the ground in Osaka’s Ikuno-ku, demanding money. However, he fled after the woman kicked him in the groin.

The man was about 165 centimeters tall and looked around 50 years old. He was wearing jeans.

The woman told police that she used her right leg to administer the coup-de-grace as she has trouble moving her left leg.

Source: Mainichi Daily News

…Wow. Just…wow. And she can’t even move her left leg! I’m absolutely speechless.

If some country ever tried to invade Japan, Japan should just send a small contingent of like 300 old women or something. Have this lady at the front, so she can scream “THIS! IS! NIPPON!” as she kicks some messenger right in his balls.

Messenger: Our arrows will blot out the sun!
Obasan: Then we will fight under our parasols. Bitch.

This is one I just can’t wrap my head around.

KARUIZAWA, Nagano — A woman suffered light injuries after being attacked by a bear while working in her garden at home here, police said Wednesday.
Police said the 64-year-old woman was bitten on the head and shoulder by the Asiatic black bear at about 6:50 a.m. on Wednesday. Police and a local hunting association have launched a search for the animal. Law enforcers said the bear had a body length of about 1 meter. After attacking the woman, it escaped into a nearby grove of trees.

Officials in the prefectural government’s forest management division said that bears have begun to show up in increasing numbers in the prefecture each year, with 188 incidents reported as of the end of June this year. Officials said the latest incident marked the first time that someone had been injured this year in the area.

Source: Mainichi Daily News

Forget Godzilla, Japan needs to worry about these ninja bears, dropping out of trees and shit and attacking people at random.

A bear. Goddamnit.

Note, however, that this 64-year old woman suffered “light injuries” after being BITTEN ON THE HEAD BY A BEAR. I *told* you little old Japanese women were indestructible.
I can’t imagine how dead I would be if a BEAR just suddenly rained down on me and BIT MY HEAD. But to this old woman?
Light injuries.