Sunday, October 31, 2010

Japanese Porn Star Has Wife Who Doesn't Mind

Who says that Japanese wives are not the best? Here's the story of a very famous Japanese porn star whose wife doesn't complain!

From the Globe and Mail:

“There’s no jealousy as far as I can tell. But last year while I was drinking with my wife in Asakusa [a neighbourhood of Tokyo], someone came up to me and asked for an autograph. She was surprised, but it didn’t lead to an argument. She understands it’s a job and she trusts me.”

While his daughter wasn't too happy about the deal, his wife (bless her heart) was unfazed:

But while his daughter was “shocked” at her discovery, Mr. Tokuda says his wife was unbothered to find out about his raunchy part-time profession. “My wife lets me do whatever I want now that I’m retired,” he says. “She’s just concerned about my health and tells me not to work too hard.”

Of course I am shocked.  Shocked, I tell you at this behavior.

Read more about the retired Japanese guy who has the job that 99.7% of all guys only dream about.

Two Cigarette Brands Are Selling Well in Japan

I just came back from a late night run to the convenience store where I was surprised to see, for the first time in my entire time in Japan, convenience stores selling what people consider to be "B-grade" Japanese cigarettes. It is quite unusual to see these low-end cigarettes at a convenience store.

I wrote before about how the Japanese government insanely raised taxes on cigarettes here. Now, the news is coming out that people have seriously curtailed their smoking and it has hurt government tax coiffures as well as the tobacco industry... Well, duh!

Wakaba cigarettes... Notice the cool and trendy design! 
¥220 (about $2.50 USD) for twenty 18 mg. cigarettes 

It used to be that convenience stores, due to lack of space, only sold the premium brands of cigarettes; Seven Star, Marlboro, Camel, Lark, Lucky Strike, etc... (Japanese cigarette, High-Lite, was considered low-end)... But now since a pack of premium cigarettes costs about ¥420 a pack or more (about $5.00 USD), it seems that sales of the low-grade tobaccos are soaring. Low-grade tobaccos sell for about half what premium brands sell for - between ¥220 ~ ¥250 a pack ($2.50 ~ $3.00)!

The guy at the convenience store told me that Wakaba cigarettes, especially, are enjoying brisk sales!

Wakaba is a very old brand in Japan and is definitely not considered cool by the younger people (I think it is very cool!)... The other brand the store clerk said was selling well was the other brand that is considered very low-class and only smoked by nearly homeless old men; Golden Bat.

Both Wakaba and Golden Bat are strong cigarettes at 18 & 21 mg. But as my Japanese friend says about people who smokes one mg. cigs, "Are you going to smoke cigarettes or not smoke cigarettes?" 

Both these brands are not trendy at all and have the image of depression era Japan...

Good thing, maybe their time has come again!

Hooray for the folks that elect to buy the cheaper stuff. If everyone did the same, the other cigarettes would have to lower their prices!

Here's a Golden Bat TV commercial from about 10 ~ 15 years ago:

Wakaba is too low grade to have ever had a TV commercial as far as I know.

Hell, and, come to think of it... The older stuff is always better anyway, right? And if these two are not cool, then I don't know what is!

The Funniest Japanese TV Commercials I've Ever Seen

OK. These are the best.

This is a series of Fanta commercials (with English subtitles) and these are hilarious! They are even better if you've been to Japan or live here.

I've watched these several times and still laugh everytime.

The description reads:

A series of Fanta commercials from Japan. Now with English "fansub" subtitles!

By the way, "dorobo neko", which I translated literally as "thieving cat", is a slang term that refers to a woman who chases after a man married to someone else.

Hilarious Cartoon! Tokyo Mater (From Disney / Pixar animation Cars)

My son loves the Disney / Pixar animation Cars. You know, the cartoon about Lightening McQueen and etc., etc....

Now, my six-year-old son shows me this great cartoon based on Cars that I had never even heard of. It is called "Tokyo Mater" and was originally shown on Disney TV during a movie special... So, I don't know how long this will last until Disney takes it down.... 

Enjoy while you can!

Hilarious Recruitment Video for Japanese Coast Guard

You've got to see this. It s a hilarious video for recruitment or the Japanese Coast Guard.

Requirements to join Japanese Coast Guard:

Must be 18 or over
Interested in the oceans and sailing
High School graduate
Ability to follow orders and scrub decks
*Ability to breakdance desireable but not required (will train).

And now, a comparison between Japan and the US Navy:

Guys! Beware of Soft Drinks in Japan

Once again, the good folks at I am Bored have come through with a good reason why ordering a soft drink in Japan can be bad for a guys self-image and machismo.

My Japanese friends said this cup was, "cute."

Why Do Japanese Retailers Like Louis Vuitton Rip Off Customers?

Brand named goods are outrageously expensive and over-priced in Japan. Many women go overseas to buy these goods which hurts business here.

The retailers here probably figure that only older people are going to buy this stuff locally (hence they won't be Internet savvy) but there are many people who are onto their game.

Long time Japan resident and expert Ira Hata writes in:

I went to Louis Vuitton last week and looked at some boots that were going for 138,600 yen.  Then, I went online to LV's home page (in France) and found the exact same boots going for 89,000 yen (at today's Euro exchange rate)!!

1)      With the Japanese economy hurting the way it is and, worse yet, the fashion industry dependent on sales during specific seasons (not to mention changes in trends every year), why wouldn't they adjust the pricing to attract more customers and sell out their inventory?

2)      With access to real time information worldwide, why would Japanese customers continue to visit local boutiques and purchase merchandise at "rip off" prices?

When I asked why LV Japan is selling the same boots (as their headquarters in Paris) for 50,000 yen more, the saleswoman gave a lame ass excuse saying "we (LV Japan) fix our exchange rate once a year and do not adjust until the following year".  The strange thing is that they've NEVER sold their products at less than headquarters so that's a bullshit line.  Worse yet, she didn't seem to care whether she made a sale or not.  What arrogance!

A few days later, I met a good salesman (notice it's not a female) who apologized and told me he'll try to report this to the "higher ups" (most likely oldsters who don't care about anything except for their salary increase) so they can consider it.  He agreed with me about the waste of potential business and loses due to dead stock.  He also told me that other luxury brands were screwing the customers even worse by charging close to double the retail price of their headquarters pricing.

No wonder the Chinese are only buying used branded products in Japan and going to Europe to buy the new stuff...

By the way, ¥50,000 is about $600 (USD). I always shop online anyway (not that I buy LV stuff), but it's no wonder you see closed up boutiques and brand goods shops everywhere in Tokyo nowadays. For ¥50,000 you can fly round trip to Korea and stay two nights at a good hotel!

Of course, the retailers are free to charge whatever they wish. It's just that the Internet and online sales are making competition and pricing all the better for the customers - and that's good. Traditional retailers need to pay more attention.

5 Outlandish Tech Myths About Japan

Over at Dvice they have an interesting article about how outrageous claims are about robots, vending machines, etc. are in Japan.

Of the roughly 5.5 million vending machines in Japan (the highest density of such machines on the planet), the beverage component (including beer) generated a staggering $27 billion last year. The remaining machines dole out things like candy, food, cigarettes, tickets, and toys. But if you follow the sensational random reports from various blogs, you'd think the streets were lined with machines spitting out lady's undergarments, and various other perverse curios of Japanese arcana.

The truth is that although there are indeed vending machines that dispense such underground items, these machines are almost exclusively limited to specialized establishments that cater to, well, unique customers. You could spend a year traveling throughout Japan and never see anything more threatening in the public machines than a fattening chocolate snack.

Read more about Japan's robots, Internet Cafes, school girls (yes, it's an article about Japan so school girls are required), and Electric City at Dvice.

Make Your Own Japanese High School Girl Figurine... Really!

No, I'm not making this up. You really can have your very own Japanese High School girl figurine made for you. To your specifications... No! I know what you are thinking! This is innocent!

A company is offering to make your very own bobble-head figurine designed from a photograph that you send in to them. That's right! You can make a Japanese High School girl bobblehead figurine of any of your friends (or even yourself).

The next question is: Why would anyone want to make one of these?

The dolls cost $119 but they are custom made. See here for more details:

From Neatorama

Kurosawa Film Trailers (Part 5 of 5)

Part 5 of 5 of Akira Kurosawa film trailers in English:

Dersu Uzala (1975)  
From Wikipedia:

Dersu Uzala (RussianДерсу УзалаJapaneseデルス·ウザーラ; alternate U.S. title: Dersu Uzala: The Hunter) is a 1975 joint Soviet-Japanese film production directed by Akira Kurosawa, his first non Japanese language film. The film won the Grand Prix at the Moscow Film Festival and the 1975 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. The film is based on the 1923 memoir Dersu Uzala by Russian explorer Vladimir Arsenyev, about his exploration of the Sikhote-Alin region of Siberia over the course of multiple expeditions in the early 20th century.
The film is almost entirely shot outdoors in the ruggedly beautiful Siberian wilderness. As with most of Kurosawa's work, each frame is carefully composed to form a dramatic picture. The film explores the theme of a native of the forests who is fully integrated into his environment, leading a style of life that will inevitably be destroyed by the advance of civilization. It is also about the growth of respect and deep friendship between two men of profoundly different backgrounds, and about the difficulty of coping with the loss of strength and ability that comes with old age.
The film sold 20.4 million tickets in the Soviet Union and made $1.2 million in the US and Canada.

Kagemusha (1980)
From Wikipedia:

Kagemusha (影武者) is a 1980 film by Akira Kurosawa. The title (which literally translates to "Shadow Warrior" in Japanese) is a term used for an impersonator. It is set in the Warring States era of Japanese history and tells the story of a lower-class criminal who is taught to impersonate a dying warlord in order to dissuade opposing lords from attacking the newly vulnerable clan. The warlord whom the kagemushaimpersonates is based on daimyo Takeda Shingen and the climactic 1575 Battle of Nagashino.

Ran (1985)

From Wikipedia:

Ran (, "chaos" or "revolt") is a 1985 film written and directed by Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa. It is a jidaigeki (Japanese period drama) depicting the fall of Hidetora Ichimonji (Tatsuya Nakadai), an agingSengoku-era warlord who decides to abdicate as ruler in favor of his three sons. The story is based on legends of the daimyo Mōri Motonari, as well as on the Shakespearean tragedy King Lear.
Ran was Kurosawa's last epic. With a budget of $12 million, it was the most expensive Japanese film ever produced up to that time.  After Ran, Kurosawa directed three other films before he died, but none on so large a scale. The film was hailed for its powerful images and use of color—costume designer Emi Wadawon an Academy Award for Costume Design for her work on Ran. The distinctive Gustav Mahler-inspiredfilm score, written by Tōru Takemitsu, plays in isolation with ambient sound muted.

Rhapsody in August (1991)

From Wikipedia:

Rhapsody in August (八月の狂詩曲 Hachigatsu no rapusodī, aka Hachigatsu no kyōshikyoku) is a 1991 Japanese film by Akira Kurosawa. The story centers on an elderly hibakusha, who lost her husband in the 1945 atomic bombing of Nagasaki, caring for her four grandchildren over the summer. She learns of a long-lost brother, Suzujiro, living in Hawaii who wants her to visit him before he dies. American film star Richard Gere appears as Suzujiro's son Clark.

Kurosawa Film Trailers (Part 4 of 5)

Here is part 4 of 5 of Akira Kurosawa film trailers in English

High and Low (1963)
From Wikipedia:

High and Low (天国と地獄 Tengoku to Jigoku, literally "Heaven and Hell") is a 1963 film directed by Akira Kurosawa, starring Toshirō MifuneTatsuya Nakadai and Kyōko Kagawa. It was loosely based on King's Ransom, an 87th Precinct police procedural by Ed McBain.

Akahige (Red Beard) 1965

From Wikipedia:

Red Beard (赤ひげ Akahige) is a 1965 Japanese film directed by Akira Kurosawa about the relationship between a town doctor and his new trainee. The film was based on Shūgorō Yamamoto's short story collection, Akahige shinryotan (赤ひげ診療譚). Fyodor Dostoevsky's novel The Insulted and the Injured provided the source for a subplot about a young girl, Otoyo (Terumi Niki), who is rescued from a brothel. Red Beard looks at the problem of social injustice and explores two of Kurosawa's favourite topics: humanism and existentialism.

Dodesuka-den (1970)

From Wikipedia:

Dodesukaden (どですかでん) is a film by Akira Kurosawa set in a contemporary Japanese rubbish dump. The film focuses on the lives of a variety of characters who happen to live in the dump. The first one introduced is a mentally challenged boy who pretends to be a tram conductor by following a set route through the dump in an imaginary tram that he mimes. The film title refers to a Japanese onomatopoeia for the sound made by a tram or train while in motion ( "Do-desu-ka-den do-desu-ka-den do-desu-ka-den"). The sound is made by the boy as he makes his daily faux-tram route through the dump. Dodesukaden was filmed on an actual dump in Tokyo.
This was Kurosawa's first color film, and he took full of advantage of the new color medium. After the success of Red Beard, it took Kurosawa five years before this film appeared. None of the actors from Kurosawa's stock company of the 1950's and 60's were in this film and most of the cast were relatively unknown. Dodesukaden was unlike anything that Kurosawa had made before, and was critically panned in Japan despite earning an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Film for the 44th Academy Awards for films made in 1970. 
Dodesukaden was Kurosawa's first financial failure and came during the worst possible time in his life. When Dodesukaden was filmed Kurosawa had been going through a lull in his career and personal life - he was finding it increasingly difficult to obtain financing despite the critical and financial success of his previous films, and rumors about his deteriorating mental health only made matters worse. Dodesukaden was only made by the cooperation and co-producing of three other Japanese directors, Keisuke KinoshitaMasaki Kobayashi, and Kon Ichikawa.
The critical failure of Dodesukaden sent Kurosawa into a deep depression, and in 1971 he attempted suicide. Despite having slashed himself over 30 times with a razor, Kurosawa survived his suicide attempt; however, he would not return to filmmaking for five years, releasing Dersu Uzala in 1975.