Sunday, September 30, 2012

Why Korea Beats Japan


I was at my son's school the other day and got into a conversation with a friend who is a very high ranking executive at Samsung corporation. His son and my son are in the same class again this year and so it was very nice to see him again. He is chief of their Japan operations and we had a interesting talk. During that talk, we came to the subject of how Samsung is dominating the market in flat screen TVs and moving that direction in hand held computers and cellphones.


In August of this year, the Wall Street Journal ran this article entitled, "How Japan Lost its Electronics Crown"

Sony, Sharp and Panasonic combined to lose about $20 billion in the past fiscal year. That is a contrast with the glory days of the late 1970s and early 1980s, when Japan started to dominate the world of consumer electronics. As the Japanese economy surged, the electronics conglomerates ruled the market for memory chips, color TVs, and videocassette recorders, while their research labs gave birth to gadgets that would define an era: the Walkman, CD and DVD players.

Now, Japan's device makers are an afterthought to Apple Inc., Google Inc. and South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. 

Or how about this interesting tidbit from Marmot Hole a blog about Korea:

Samsung Now Bigger Than Nine of Japan’s Major Electronics Companies

And you thought Samsung was big enough already since it accounted for more than a fifth of Korea’s GDP.


The Wall Street Journal reports that Samsung Electronics’ operating profit, at $3.14 billion, is more than two times larger than the combined operating profit of nine of Japan’s largest consumer electronic companies.  Samsung now has a $7.4 billion war chest to spend on growth and R&D where many of the Japanese companies are at an operating loss (Sony) or in huge debt (Hitachi).


These articles touch on some very important points, like value of yen and style issues, but both my Samsung friend and I agree that the biggest problem for Japanese companies versus Korean companies in manufacturing may not be simply issues with design and ease of use, but it has a lot to do with corporate culture in Japan.

Frankly speaking, from what I've seen, Korean companies will continue to beat Japanese companies for the long foreseeable future. There's no way out. Why? Because inside a Korean company, there are no factions fighting for position like what goes on at a Japanese company. Also, Japan doesn't have the leadership it once had; there are no more good leaders, definitely in politics and there is a terrible shortage in business in Japan too.

My Samsung friend put it this way, 

"At a Korean company everyone is on the same bus and we are all going the same way. At a Japanese company, the leaders have a very difficult time getting everyone pointed in the same direction."

He's absolutely right. 

At a Japanese company groups are struggling within, and against each other, to gain power. At Korean companies, I think they feel it is "Korea versus the world!"

When I worked as an executive at a major Japanese TV station subsidiary, I saw a consistent in-fighting between three or four factions for power. When faction "A" would come to power, the other factions seemed to not put in their best effort. In fact, I saw times when the other factions would actually drag their feet and become a hindrance to the efforts of the group in power.

It was infuriating to me as a foreigner who wasn't inside of any group to see people protecting their friends and their position as the number one work priority rather than the success of the company business or the project. 

It seems to me that the success of the project would automatically protect one's position. But no! These folks wanted success for sure, but only if their group was the one in power when that success occurred.

I saw this same problem at a Sony subsidiary, another TV network I worked at in the mid 80s ~ early 90s; and you can readily see this same problem in Japanese politics anytime anywhere.

I was, and am still to this day, astounded at the immaturity of some of these people. 

As an aside, at my son's school festival, the Korean families always run their "Korea booth" featuring delicacies from their home. It's a wonderful time for all. I was chairman of the PTA committee one year and was able to witness first hand how the Korean team worked. It surprised me that the ladies worked in the exact same pecking order as their husbands had at work; the wife of the highest ranking executive was the boss of the Korean booth; wives of second tier executives were second in-charge, and so on. There seemed to be no friction; just total teamwork. Everyone was certainly facing the same way and the boss of the Korea Booth proudly told me, "We are striving to sell the most food and give the biggest donation of any country to the school and charity!" She was dead serious about it too.

There goes that "Korea against the world!" again.

Several weeks ago, well before it had "only" 100 million views, I posted the video about Korean sensation PSY on a video countdown well before it exploded on the consciousness of Americans and the Japanese. At that time the video had about three times more views than the entire population of South Korea! I was astounded!

Nevertheless, after posting the video, some small minded people came out and made silly comments like, "Oh, he's just copying the Japanese." Or, a week ago or so, after the song because popular in the USA, I saw an article on Yahoo (America) that said, "Will PSY be a one-hit wonder?"

Yeah, I wish I could be even a 1/100th of a one-hit hit wonder. 
My video would then still have over 3 million views!

What the heck! The guy sings in Korean! Probably he will be a one-hit wonder in the USA. But so what? The guy's video, "Gangnam Style" has, as of this moment, 319,052,309 views! That's the most viewed video in history! That more than twice the views of Justin Beiber's "Boyfriend." PSY might possibly be one of the biggest stars in Korea, possibly Asia, in all of history.

Not bad for a guy who "copies" stuff or is a "one hit wonder," eh?

Why are people so jealous of these Korean success stories? I am happy and pleased to see guys like PSY and companies like Samsung doing so well. Competition is healthy and competition makes us all up the quality of our game. Those who chatter and grouse only show their immaturity and lack of self-reflection and professionalism.... We need to learn from them because, well, as they say, "the best revenge is success" and it seems the Koreans are doing quite nicely thank you.

I really hate to say this because I am half-Japanese, but, sometimes I think MacArthur was right when he said, "Japan is a nation of twelve-year-olds."

If the Japanese don't snap out of it and get with the program and start all dedicating their efforts to the success of the project, rather than protection of their position, they're going to become a nation of very poor twelve-year-olds.   

Related post: Korean Artists Really Are Getting Popular in Japan and It's a Good Thing!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Facebook Launches Tacky Presents "Gifts" App - FAIL!


Here's another crappy Facebook app that I don't think is going to fly. I mean, if you care enough about someone to buy them a birthday present, you certainly aren't going to buy some trash from Facebook (unless, of course, you also think buying birthday presents at 7-11 is OK!)


Give a gift with class... 7-11 wine or Facebook chocolates or socks!

Stuff.co.nz has the story in Facebook Users Can Send Presents:

Facebook is rolling out a service called Gifts which, as its name suggests, lets users send chocolate, coffee, socks and other real-life presents to one another. 

Facebook Gifts launched Thursday to a subset of users in the US and will roll out to more over the coming months as people begin to send gifts to each other. 

Users will be able to click on a "gifts" icon on their Facebook friends' pages on Facebook's website or on Android mobile phones. (iPhone and iPad versions are coming soon.) 

The icon will also show up on the right side of users' Facebook pages with the notifications for friends' birthdays, weddings and other life events. For example, if your friend's birthday is coming up in two days, you'll now see a "give her a gift" link and the gift icon next to her name and photo. 

Clicking the icon will display presents users can buy, such as a Starbucks gift card, cupcakes or a teddy bear. 

The recipient will be notified through Facebook to enter a shipping address for the presents. In some cases, they'll be able to select their own cupcake flavours or size and style of socks. They can also exchange gifts for other items if they don't like chocolate or don't wear socks. 

This is desperate.  I mean, getting a Facebook "Happy Birthday" notice is bad enough as it is, but actually ordering presents through Facebook? Then the recipient has to enter their mailing address to received a gift? Now there's 26 things to hate about Facebook!

Doh! Now why in the world would I give someone a present if I don't care about them enough to even know their mailing address?! And, if I receive a "presents" notice from someone who doesn't know my address (and didn't call me or send me an email to ask) does anyone think I'm going to input my mailing address into Facebook?!

You guys are kidding, right?

This is tacky and, I predict, another Facebook FAIL!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Woman Dies in Fukushima!


Finally the news says something about someone in Fukushima dying. But it’s not what you think! It’s not from the nuclear disaster or radiation. No! This poor old woman was killed by a bear!

Now, doesn’t that just take the cake? Poor old woman survives the earthquakes, the tsunamis, the radiation only to end up getting killed by a bear???....

Japan Today has the story:

82-year-old woman dies after apparent bear attack in Fukushima

An 82-year-old woman died after apparently being attacked by a bear in Kitaka City, Fukushima Prefecture, on Wednesday morning.


According to police, the woman’s body was found at around 8:30 a.m. in a field by her home, where she had gone to work, TBS reported. She had bite marks on her head and a bear’s footprints were seen around the body.


The area is about 4 kilometers from the center of the city, with schools and many residences nearby. Police issued an alert for people to be on the lookout for a bear.


What!? “Police issued an alert for people to be on the lookout for a bear.”
Description: “Calling all cars! Be on the lookout for a suspect that is big, brown, weighs about 170 kilograms, furry. Black nose, walking on all fours. Question and apprehend.”


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Free Family Picnic Party w 76.1 InterFM and 6 O'Clock Yatsura! 10/28 (Sun)


Hey everyone! There will be another of our annual Free Family Picnic Parties with 76.1 InterFM and the gang from "6 O'Clock Yatsura!" on Sunday, October 28, from 8 am until 5 pm and you are invited! Bring your kids, family and friends! It's free and a great time to get outside and enjoy the beautiful view along the park at Futakotamagawa Station and the Tamagawa River! 

For more details listen to 76.1 InterFM and 6 O'Clock Yatsura (Monday ~ Friday nites from 6 pm to 8 pm). If you are in Japan, you can listen to 76.1 InterFM here on Radiko! (Click the InterFM button at the top!)

The park is only a 6 minute walk from Futakotamagawa station on the Denen-Toshi Line and 12 minutes from Shibuya by express train.

10/28(日) ピクニックパーティー開催!
10/28(日)に二子多摩川駅近くの兵庫島河川敷の近辺で
番組のピクニックパーティー開催します!
もちろん参加無料!
時間は8:00~17:00頃を予定。
お時間のある方はぜひ遊びに来てください!
※会場はBBQ禁止エリアのため火は使用できません。



For more information, see 76.1 InterFM 6 O'Clock Yatsura

Hope to see you there!  全員集合!!!!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Japanese Ministry of Finance to Japanese Public and Bond Holders: "You are bankrupt! But don't worry!"


Wolf Richter is quickly becoming one of my favorite writers on his blog entitled, “Testosterone Pit.” Today he’s got a post that just shows us that Japan could be doomed sooner than imaginable. From Zero Hedge: Japanese Ministry of Finance to Japanese Bondholders: You’re Screwed!

This has got to be the icing on the Japanese cake. The otherwise bland website of the Japanese Ministry of Finance, more specifically the FAQ page on government bonds, has been catapulted to stardom on Facebook and Twitter. Not in a good way. As you flip through the MoF’s website, page after page, you will mostly see zero Facebook likes and zero tweets. Social media and the MoF ignore each other.


But go to the FAQ page, skip down past the categories of Budget, Taxation, and Tariffs to item 4, Government bonds. Under the second group, skip past Tax questions for individuals, Miscellaneous (Is it a crime if I make a copy?), Price and yield questions, and Coupons to the infamous question 5: “In case Japan becomes insolvent, what will happen to government bonds?“


Tweeted 1,652 times, liked on Facebook 3,828 times!


The question is asked, "If Japan goes bankrupt, what happens to our bonds?"
Answer: "The Japanese government will take responsibility. Don't worry!"

The MoF website isn’t some blog to be ignored (at your own risk) but the official voice of the most important ministry of the most indebted country in the world, whose debt will reach 240% of GDP by the end of this fiscal year. The country borrows over 50% of every yen it spends, and it spends more every year. With no solution in sight. Other than more borrowing. Certainly not cutting the budget, which would be too painful. It wouldn’t be enough anyway. Even cutting the budget in half would leave a deficit. And the recently passed consumption tax increase? It will raise the tax from its current 5% to 8% in 2014 and to 10% in 2015, way too little to deal with the gigantic problem, and years too late. Yet it won’t kick in unless GDP grows at least 2% per year—which has practically no chance of happening.


No, there is no longer a good solution. And everyone knows it. 


Read the rest at Zero Hedge

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Man in Japan First in World to Own iPhone 7!!! With Photographs!!!


Yes, friends. I own the world's first iPhone 7. And I have a photo to prove it. But first, let's talk about the new iPhone 5.... (iPhone 7の写真は下)。


Beg, borrow or steal... Or wait two nights camping outside an Apple Store? Yes! Some people will do anything to get the new iPhone 5!

The new iPhone 5 finally came out yesterday!!!! For some people the wait is over.

But some of those people didn't want to wait even a few minutes extra. They wanted to be the first! Talk about customer loyalty!

Some people in Japan began lining up 2 days before the iPhone 5 went on sale!

The new iWait

Some of the more fervent fans even camped out overnight.... 

iCamp

Thank god it wasn't raining, eh? What? It rained like crazy????


iWet

Wow! Hard core! And, of course, they ate healthy when they camped out by eating chocolate bars and other junk...

iJunkfood

Others, just couldn't wait and broke into the Apple Store early in the morning and stole their iPhones (Gee, don't those things have traceable items, like serial numbers???? Just asking.) They, actually, were the very first people in the world to get the new iPhone 5 (who says crime doesn't pay?)

Other people didn't want to wait so they paid up $1500 dollars to other people to wait in line for them!!!!

My dear friend Michio and his crazy friends actually went out to the Apple Store in the Ginza and camped out overnight (for two nights?!) to make sure they got an iPhone 5... Well, he got lucky and was one of the first.



Of course, though, seriously I never wait for these things. Even though I, too, have a special relationship with Apple too! (I sleep with a Macbook Pro under my pillow! And carry a photo of Steve Jobs in my wallet!)

And now, ladies and gentlemen! What you've all been waiting for!!!! I have a Apple iPhone 7!!! Let me unveil this fantastic item to you right now.....


(セロハンテープでiPhone 3 + iPhone 4 = iPhone 7!!!素晴らしい!)

My iPhone 3 taped to the back of my iPhone 4! Get it? Three plus four equals seven! Bwa! Ha! Ha! I'm a genius! Brilliant!... 

What?! You think I'm crazy? Maybe so, but I'm not crazy enough to go out sleeping over night in the rain (or pay someone $1500 to do so in my place) for the fantastic new iPhone 5....

I'll go there next month or so and get the new iPhone 5. No rush.... I still have my iPhone 4 - which is good enough for now for little 'ol me!!!! (and the world's first iPhone 7!)


All photos (except iPhone 7) by Michio Hashimoto

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Senkaku Has Been Japan Since the 1800's. This Spat is About Chinese Elections!


The new Free Tibet or Kony 2012 hype this is all for the Chinese election, it is not about the islands. As I pointed out in Historical Chinese Records, Documents and Books Recognize Senkaku as Part of Japan:

Perhaps those who claim that the recent troubles and anti-Japanese demonstrations in China are just the Chinese government fanning the flames of nationalism to take the minds of the citizenry off of domestic problems caused by the government's incompetence could be correct? 

Our own Ryan Dawson now appears on RT and tells us about the Chinese election and all sort of scandals going on in China now. Senkaku is, as Ryan points out, a diversion...


Thanks and great work Ryan Dawson! 



Thursday, September 20, 2012

Water and Music Festival! Free Fun Family Event This Weekend at Heiwajima!


There's a great charity event coming up this weekend at Heiwajima that looks like great fun for the entire family! It's the "Mizu to Ongaku no Saiten" (Water and Music Festival). All proceeds will be donated to relief efforts of the disaster stricken areas in Tohoku and admission is free with a donation (of any amount!)

今週末9/22(土),23(日)に行われる、
水と音楽の祭典 in ボートレース平和島のお話を伺いました。
興味を持たれた方は、是非遊びに行ってみてはいかがでしょうか?
京急開発株式会社のHPでも詳しい情報がご覧になれます↓


http://www.keikyu-kaihatsu.co.jp/
http://www.big-fun.jp/10anniversary.pdf



The event runs from Saturday to Sunday opening at 10:30 am until 5 pm every night and it looks like it's going to be a blast!

You can do all these things for free:

*Join a free raffle to win prizes including vacation and stays at hotels
*Watch boats races (You get to bet for free and if your boat wins, you get a prize! Cool!)
*Kids can make handmade musical instruments
*The World Percussion group will perform
*There's all sort of boat rides for the kids (free!)
*Of course there's tons of real police cars, ambulances, fire engines etc, that the kids can go inside of and take pictures!
*A marching band parade
*Awa-Odori (Traditional Japanese dance) 
*A battle of the bands that includes many famous Jazz and rock and world music artists (the fans get to vote for the winners too!)
* Of course there's a food court too with all sorts of festival foods and snacks!


The Water and Music Festival sounds like a lot of fun and we are going to go this weekend. Hope to see you there too!

Here's a map to the festival: http://www.heiwajima.gr.jp/en/traffic/traffic.htm



Sunday, September 16, 2012

Hilarious! Delta Airlines Sponsored Golfer Wins ANA Cup


A little birdie just called and informed me that Japanese professional golfer Hiroyuki Fujita just won the prestigeous ANA Golfing Champion Cup a short while ago. ANA is All Nippon Airways.


That's hilarious.

Why is that Hilarious?

Because Hiroyuki Fujita is sponsored by Delta Airlines!

I'm sure the folks running ANA are really happy about now promoting a competing airlines.

Here's a story about Delta signing Fujita.

Historical Chinese Records, Documents and Books Recognize Senkaku as Part of Japan


Now here's an interesting bit of information.... Historical records, documents and book from the Chinese government show that China in the past has recognized Senkaku as Japanese territory... 

Perhaps those who claim that the recent troubles and anti-Japanese demonstrations in China are just the Chinese government fanning the flames of nationalism to take the minds of the citizenry off of domestic problems caused by the government's incompetence could be correct?

From Wikipedia:

After a number of Chinese were rescued from a shipwreck in 1920, a letter purportedly sent to Japanese fishermen by the Chinese Consul Feng Mien (冯冕/馮冕) in Nagasaki on behalf of the Republic of China (中華民國) on May 20, 1921, made reference to "Senkaku Islands, Yaeyama District, Okinawa Prefecture, the Empire of Japan". The letter is on exhibition at Yaeyama museum.

The Washington Times claims that this is a map from the PRC in 1969 that shows Senkaku as Japanese territory.

The People's Daily, a daily newspaper, which is the organ of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), had written in 1953 that Senkaku Islands was a part of Japanese territory.

The Washington Times stated that they obtained a classified map made by the PRC's map authority in 1969 apparently listing the "Senkaku Islands" as Japanese territory.

A World Atlas published in October 1965 by the National Defense Research Academy and the China Geological Research Institute of Taiwan records the Diaoyu Islands with Japanese names: Gyochojima (Diaoyu Islands), Taishojima (Chiwei Island), and Senkaku Gunto. In the late 1970s, the government of ROC began to recall these books, but it was too late.

This is a letter sent from the Republic of China consul to Nagasaki written on May 20, 1921. The letter referred to "Senkaku Islands, Yaeyama District, Okinawa Prefecture, the Empire of Japan".

A world atlas published in November 1958, by the Map Publishing Company of Beijing, treats the Senkaku Islands as a Japanese territory. A state-prescribed textbook published in 1970 in Taiwan treated the islands as Japanese territories.

Digging a bit deeper, it seems that the Chinese government had recognized Senkaku as Japan until the seventies when oil was discovered near the islands.

Again, a war over resources? When will we ever learn? 

Japan's Debt Bomb and China's "We Must Go To War With Japan"


Japan has the highest debt level relative to its economic output of any country in the world. Japan's nuclear reactors shut down March of 2011 after the Fukushima event. This forced Japan to nearly triple energy imports. The increase in energy imports led Japan to becoming a net importer rather than a net exporter. The importing of energy requires greater deficit spending to pay for it - which in turn adds more debt. Japan's aging population means its workforce will likely decline - thus making the trade deficit difficult to reverse. Low interest rates mean investors don't earn much income for holding yen. Is the only way for Japan to get out of debt to print yen? …. And now, troubles with islands and conflict with China?





And now add this on top: "Thousands besiege Japan's embassy in Beijing over Tokyo's assertion of control over disputed islands in East China Sea." And China is not happy: "For The Respect Of The Motherland, We Must Go To War With Japan." China sends ships, then Japan sends ships.... This is how escalation begins and war starts.... (Read about how this is getting out of hand here).
 
Thanks to Zero Hedge:
http://www.zerohedge.com/news/visualizing-japans-debt-crisis

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/meanwhile-beijing-respect-motherland-we-must-go-war-japan 

Thanks to Nic Coldicott

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Cool & Strange Music Vol. 4


It's time once again for another version of Cool & Strange Music! Yippee!!!


Let's start of the show with a Brigitte Bardot video from 1968 that has a great remix along with the original video. This song is called "Contact."


Here's what Wikipedia says about the very outspoken and fascinating Brigitte Bardot:

Brigitte Anne-Marie Bardot is a former French fashion model, actress, singer and animal rights activist. She was one of the best-known sex symbols of the 1960s. Starting in 1969, Bardot's features became the official face of Marianne (who had previously been anonymous) to represent the liberty of France.

Bardot was an aspiring ballet dancer in early life. She started her acting career in 1952 and, after appearing in 16 films, became world-famous due to her role in her then-husband Roger Vadim's controversial film And God Created Woman. She later starred in Jean-Luc Godard's 1963 film Le Mépris. Bardot was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Actress for her role in Louis Malle's 1965 film Viva Maria!. Bardot caught the attention of French intellectuals. She was the subject of Simone de Beauvoir's 1959 essay, The Lolita Syndrome, which described Bardot as a "locomotive of women's history" and built upon existentialist themes to declare her the first and most liberated woman of post-war France.

Bardot retired from the entertainment industry in 1973. During her career in show business, Bardot starred in 47 films, performed in numerous musical shows, and recorded 80 songs. She was awarded the Legion of Honour in 1985, but refused to receive it. After her retirement, Bardot established herself as an animal rights activist. During the 1990s, she generated controversy by criticizing immigration, Islamization and Islam in France, and has been fined five times for "inciting racial hatred".


Next up is a cover song. Now, usually I hate covers, because I think it's rare when a cover song is better than the original. But sometimes people can do a cover and make it all their own. I think the String Quartet Tribute does that with their Tribute to Led Zeppelin album!


A few years back, they changed their name to "Vitamin String Quartet." Here's what Wikipedia says:

The Vitamin String Quartet (VSQ) is a musical group from Los Angeles, California that is widely known for its series of tribute albums to rock and pop acts. Their albums are released through Vitamin Records and primarily performed by a string quartet, though other instruments have been used. "Vitamin String Quartet is about applying rock n' roll attitude to classical technique," says Tom Tally, a violist and arranger who has performed on and produced over fifty Vitamin String Quartet albums.

Their albums honor a wide variety of genres, including pop and rock, techno, country, and rap, and a wide variety of groups, such as System of a Down, Bruce Springsteen, Led Zeppelin, Coldplay, Adele, Lady Gaga, Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Green Day, Paramore, Muse, Linkin Park, Avenged Sevenfold and many more. Their discography includes 261 albums.


And at this week's number three is our usual Japanese number. This time here's a see/listen to a lady who is probably Japan's most famous female singer in history, Misora Hibari! Misora Hibari was a singer, actress and TV star. She is the definitive Japanese star for the post-war years.


Misora Hibari is so famous she even has an English Wikipedia page!

Hibari Misora was a Japanese enka singer, actress and cultural icon. She received a Medal of Honor for her contributions to music and for improving the welfare of the public, and was the first woman to receive the People's Honour Award which was conferred posthumously for giving the public hope and encouragement after World War II.

Misora recorded 1,200 songs, and sold 68 million records. After she died consumer demand for her recordings grew significantly and by 2001 she had sold more than 80 million records. Her male contemporary was Michiya Mihashi and although he was more popular as a singer, Misora's movie career made her more popular with the general public. Her swan-song "Kawa no Nagare no Yō ni"  is often performed by numerous artists and orchestras as a tribute to her, including notable renditions by The Three Tenors (Spanish/Italian), Teresa Teng (Taiwanese), and Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan (Mexican).

Each year there is a special on Japanese television and radio featuring her songs. A memorial concert for Misora will be held at the Tokyo Dome on November 11, 2012.


OK, so that's probably not that cool and strange, but I think it is very interesting.... You say you want strange? Oh, you got it. Here's Country Punk musician Jon Wayne and the song is called Texas Funeral... Yes, that's the way the song is supposed to sound. Jon Wayne always sounds like he didn't practice; is drunk; and is hellaciously hilarious!


You're kidding me! Jon Wayne even has a Wikipedia page?????

Jon Wayne was the name of a cowpunk, alt-country band in Los Angeles in the 1980s, made up of pseudonymous session musicians who decided to form a more underground band as a diversion. Their song, "Texas Funeral", appeared in Robert Rodriguez's film "From Dusk Till Dawn" as well as the song "I've Got Texas" in the film "American Strays".In 2010 the Texas Funeral LP was reissued by Third Man Records, which is a label owned by Jack White of The White Stripes.

Finally, here's something for the whole family. It is a classic sixties electronica album by Jean Jacques Perrey and Gershon Kingsley; better know as Perrey Kingsley. Here is the wonderful song, "One Note Samba."




The musical duo Perrey and Kingsley are pioneers in the field of electronic music. Before their collaboration, starting in 1965, electronic music was considered to be purely avant-garde. They were among the first to create electronic music for the general public.

The best thing about these guys is that when the Beatles hit the states and everyone and his sister were making music that sounded like the Beatles, Perrey and Kingsley were doing their own thing! Cool!

Well that's it for this week! See you next weekend!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Dyson Showroom Event Going on Now Until Monday Sept. 17!!!


(日本語の情報は下)

Dyson is having the fab event at the "R Gallery Omotesando" exhibition space in Omotesando. The event started on September 12 and runs until the 17th (Monday) this month. It’s only open for a short time so you just gotta get over there this weekend to check it out.


You can go into the showroom and see why Dyson is all the rage and the darling of high tech home cleaning products. At this showroom you can try out everything from their new DC45 cordless vacuum cleaner, the awesome DC46 canister cleaner and even the bladeless fans called “Air Multiplier” (how does it blow cold and hot air without blades?) It was explained to me, but I still couldn’t understand.

Wow!


Every woman's dream husband! Not only does he dress nicely, but he cleans the house too! (All photos by Michio Hashimoto)

You can also try the brand new vacuum cleaners in the store!

Today, Friday September 14th, 2012 is British Day and that features free sweets and drinks for all guests. On Sunday the 16th, there are participatory workshops for all of you who like to take things apart and see how they work and put them back together again.

Also the artist, Mr. Hiroki, will be drawing portraits under the theme of “the United Kingdom.”



You’ve just gotta go to the Dyson showroom and see what all the fun and excitement is about!

Opening times are from 11 am until 8 pm. The shop will close at 6 pm on Monday, Sept 17th, the final day of this fun event.

See you there!

もっと詳しく:http://www.shibukei.com/headline/8803/
営業時間は11時~20時(最終日は18時まで)。今月17日まで。場所:「表参道Rギャラリー」(渋谷区神宮前4)
地図: http://yahoo.jp/FuFGyb

On the opening night, the boys and me (from 6 O'Clock Yatsura on 76.1 InterFM) did our show live from the Dyson showroom. 

 What a great crowd! Thanks so much! I love you all!

It was a great party and thanks to the 200 + people who showed up! Upstairs at the event are free drinks and snacks too! Cool!

Takatoshi Uchiyama works at 76.1 InterFM but dreams of someday being a hair-stylist!

To test Dyson's new vacuum cleaner head that doesn't get hair tangled up in it, I shaved my head during the show....A guess what? We cleaned up with the new vacuum cleaner head and, Shazam! No hair clogging! Incredible!


Of course, if you are going to do something, do it right... So I also had my friend and part-time barber, Takatoshi Uchiyama, shave a letter "d" in the back of my head!


Smartly shaven-head, there I am with that devilishly handsome John Flanaghan of Dyson! Wait a minute! We all have heads that look like the new Dyson DC46 vacuum cleaner. How did that happen? 
 
TV and radio star George Williams (the tall guy on the left) mingles with fans at the event!
George interviewing Sir James Dyson at the Dyson Showroom Omotesando

Also, on Sept. 11, 2012, Sir James Dyson visited the showroom and was a special guest on our radio show. Here he his being interviewed by George Williams. 

The Dyson Showroom at Omotesando is great. You've just got to go. Of course, entrance is free and the drinks and refreshments are complimentary too! Opening times are from 11 am until 8 pm. The shop will close at 6 pm on Monday, Sept 17th, the final day of this fun event.

See you there!

もっと詳しく:http://www.shibukei.com/headline/8803/
営業時間は11時~20時(最終日は18時まで)。今月17日まで。場所:「表参道Rギャラリー」(渋谷区神宮前4)
地図: http://yahoo.jp/FuFGyb
Here's the address and a map: 

Dogenzaka R gallery (behind Dogenzaka Hills)
Jungu-Mae 4
Shibuya Ku, Tokyo
Map: http://yahoo.jp/FuFGyb


For more information see the Dyson Homepage: http://www.dyson.co.jp/

Thanks to the great folks at Dyson and the excellent team at 76.1 InterFM for a fantastic event!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Must Watch Video! The Feel Good Video!!!


No comment necessary. Enjoy the short film entitled "Validation."

Thanks to my friend Dale Yost!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Japan China Relations Ruined Over Rocks? Insanity! The New Asia Arms Race!


Unbelievable. The Japanese government goes out and buys some islands disputed by China? What the hell did they go and do that and antagonize China for?

Now, China is sending warships to the islands? Of course, then, Japan will send ships of their own too.

The News On Japan reports:

A territorial flare-up between China and Japan intensified Tuesday as two Beijing-sent patrol ships arrived near disputed East China Sea islands in a show of anger over Tokyo's purchase of the largely barren outcroppings from their private owners.

The China Marine Surveillance has drawn up a plan to safeguard China's sovereignty of the islands and the ships were sent to assert those claims, said the Chinese government's official news agency, Xinhua. The marine agency is a paramilitary force whose ships are often lightly armed.


The rocky islands, known as Senkaku to Japanese and Diaoyu to Chinese, have been the focus of recurring spats between the countries and also are claimed by Taiwan. The China-Japan dispute has been heating up in recent months, in part because the nationalist governor of Tokyo proposed buying the islands and developing them.


Japan's central government announced its own deal this week with the Japanese family it recognizes as the owner. Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura told reporters the government budgeted 2.05 billion yen ($26 million) for the purchase "to maintain the Senkakus peacefully and stably."


Public broadcaster NHK said the government and the family signed a deal Tuesday.


The central government does not plan to develop the islands. Several experts interpreted the move as an attempt to block the plan by Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara, which could have raised tensions further. Ishihara also had said he hoped to visit the islands in October.



Complete and total madness....

Here's more on the Asian Arms Race and current naval strength:


To read more about the Arms Race in Asia see Zero Hedge "In Response To Japanese "Antagonism" Over Senkaku Islands, China Dispatches Two Patrol Ships" here.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Sumo Taikai (Sumo Tournament) at Futakotamagawa Shopping Street


The festival season in Japan is getting into full swing with festivals both large and small. Yesterday, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012 saw the Futakotamagawa Shopping Street Association in cooperation with the Sumo team at Nittai University have a "Sumo and Chanko Nabe" festival. It was really fun!

The sumo guys bowing and saying "Thank you!"

Here's what Wikipedia says about Chankonabe:


Chankonabe (ちゃんこ鍋) is a Japanese stew (a type of nabemono or one-pot dish) commonly eaten in vast quantity by sumo wrestlers as part of a weight-gain diet. It contains a dashi or chicken broth soup base with sake or mirin to add flavor. The bulk of chankonabe is made up of large quantities of protein sources (usually chicken (quartered, skin left on), fish (fried and made into balls), tofu (or sometimes beef)) and vegetables (daikon, bok choy, etc.). While considered a reasonably healthy dish in its own right, chankonabe is very protein-rich and usually served in massive quantities, with beer and rice to increase the caloric intake. Leftover chankonabe broth can also later be used as broth for somen or udon noodles.

It is not made according to a fixed recipe and often contains whatever is available to the cook. It is traditionally served according to seniority, with the senior rikishi and any guests of the heya receiving first choice, with the junior wrestlers getting whatever is left. It is also a popular restaurant food, often served in restaurants operated by retired sumo wrestlers who specialize in the dish; the first of these, Kawasaki Chanko, was started in 1937 in the Ryōgoku district of Tokyo, home to many prominent sumo stables.

Chankonabe served during sumo tournaments is made exclusively with chicken, the idea being that a rikishi should always be on two legs like a chicken, not all fours



Of course, I could take any of these guys! I could take them to the train station, to the bus, to the subway... Don't think they'd all fit in my car at once, though!


They even allowed the kids to battle it out with the sumo wrestlers. That was really fun for the kids and parents alike!


That's me on the right getting a close-up of my son's first ever sumo bout.


Of course the boys put on a few exhibition matches for us and, man! When they collided, you could hear it 500 meters away! Slap!


That's Mr. Matsumoto in the blue shirt. He is the second-in-charge head cheese of the Tamagawa Shopping Street Association.

Several of the sumo wrestlers warming up.



Of course, besides Chankonabe, they had all sorts of food and goodies for visitors. They also had cotton candy, shaved ice, boiled soy beans (yum!), yakitori, yakisoba, Corned dogs, and hot dogs as well as beer and drinks!

More warming up

More warmups

Of course, what festival would be complete without Kingyo-Sukui?

Wikipedia says about Kungyo-Sukui (Gold Fish Scooping):

Goldfish scooping (金魚すくい, 金魚掬い Kingyo-sukui) is a traditional Japanese game in which a player scoops goldfish with a special scooper. It is also called, "Scooping Goldfish", "Dipping for Goldfish" or "Snatching Goldfish". "Kingyo" means goldfish and "sukui" means scooping. Sometimes bouncy balls are used instead of goldfish. Japanese summer festivals or ennichi commonly have a stall for this activity. Both children and adults enjoy the game.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Nebuta Festival in Sakura Shinmachi Sept. 8, 2012

Yesterday, Sept. 8, 2012, we went to the Sakura Shinmachi version of the Nebuta Matsuri. It was fun. Here are some photos and videos of the event...



The Aomori Nebuta Matsuri (青森ねぶた祭り, "Aomori Nebuta Festival" or simply "Aomori Nebuta") is a Japanese summer festival that takes place in Aomori, Aomori Prefecture, Japan. The festival attracts the most tourists of any of the country's nebuta festivals, and is counted among the three largest festivals in the Tōhoku region. It was designated an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property in 1980. "Nebuta" refers to the float of a brave warrior-figure which is carried through the center of the city, while dancers wearing a unique type of costume called haneto (ハネト) dance around in time with the chant Rasserā (ラッセラー). In the local dialect, participation in the festival is inquired using the verb haneru (ハネル, ex. "今日もハネル?" or "Are you going to haneru today?"), which was derived from the Japanese spelling of the haneto costume and the verb haneru (跳ねる, "bounce").

Origin and history: The most widely-known explanation is that the festival originated from the flutes and taikos future shogun Sakanoue no Tamuramaro used to attract the attention of the enemy during a battle in Mutsu Province. The Tamuramaro Shō (Tamuramaro Prize) was created around this explanation in 1962 to be awarded to the festival's best group participant (later renamed to the Nebuta Taishō). 

However, it is unlikely that Tamuramaro actually conducted military expeditions in what is currently Aomori Prefecture, so this explanation is considered to be a legend. The festival most likely evolved out of traditionalShinto ceremonies like Tanabata. Another explanation involves the etymology of the word Nebuta (ねぶた). Aterui (阿弖流為), a general from the Tohoku region, united the Emishi people who had been chased out of their native territory and defeated Ki no Kosami's army of 50,000 at Kitakami River to advance all the way to Fuji, Shizuoka. This army battled Sakanoue no Tamuramaro's forces for over 12 years, but was ultimately defeated. Aterui was captured and taken to Osaka Prefecture, where he was granted an audience with the ruler before being beheaded. Aterui's decapitated head was shown off to the public, and his family and followers still remaining in the Tohoku region were forced to dig large holes where they were buried alive. Dirt was thrown over these graves, and those who surrendered to the Japanese forces and became slaves were instructed to stomp over the dirt. This event is said to be the origin of Nebuta (written "根蓋" in kanji), as Aterui's followers were sent back to their roots or to the world of the dead (根) with the dirt as a covering (蓋). According to this episode, the dancers stomp the ground while carrying the float of Sakanoue no Tamuramaro on their shoulders. 

During the Edo period and Meiji period, the act of carrying a large lantern float like the Nebuta was often banned by the government due to the potential fire hazard it posed to the surroundings. This ban was also put into place during World War II, but was lifted in 1944 as an effort to boost morale during the waning years of the war. Corporations began to sponsor the creation of the floats in the post-war period, and a strong emphasis was placed in expanding local tourism through the festival. The light source within the float was originally a candle, but was eventually changed to incandescent or fluorescent light bulbs powered by portable generators and rechargeable batteries. The frame of the floats also changed from bamboo to wire, lowering the risk of fire considerably. Nebuta floats also grew larger with time, but urban obstacles such as footbridges, power lines, and traffic lights only allowed their width to increase significantly. The floats often feature images of kabuki actors, various types of gods, and historical or mythical figures from Japanese or Chinese culture, but modern Nebuta floats may also feature famous regional personalities or characters from television shows 


Now this is something that few foreigners will ever see and it was the first time I've ever seen it. It's called Nanking Tamasu Dare and it is a very old traditional Japanese street performance. People who still do this nowadays are few and far between. Usually street performers are young people but, you can tell by looking at this kindly old woman that she's been doing this for years. She was great! Wikipedia says:

Nankin tamasudare (南京玉簾 or 南京玉すだれ Nankin-tamasudare, lit. "Nanjing Lily") is a kind of traditional Japanese street performance. The name "Nankin tamasudare" is a play on words, as it can mean a kind of flower, as well as mean something like "a wonderous woven screen" (sudare is a kind of screen made by weaving straw with twine.)

The performance consists of a person skilled in manipulating special screens made of loosely woven sticks, as well as chanting an accompanying a kind of poetry. The performer chants a rhythmic poem as s/he uses the screen to portray the objects in the poetry without stopping. The screen is twisted, folded, extended, etc., in many different ways to portray an object, and then brought back quickly to its original screen shape. The chant usually ends with a pun: kaeru nai has the double meaning that there is no frog (カエル kaeru) under the willow tree, and the willow tree figure cannot return (帰る kaeru) easily to the original shape. The story ends with the willow tree figure, with the performer slowly packing up the mat after the performance.

Nankin tamasudare is said to have been a popular form of entertainment that began in the Edo period. Today, it is sometimes performed at Japanese cultural festivals.



Besides the street performers, there were a bunch of scary characters running around. This guy was on stilts and was about three meters tall!









The Sakura Shinmachi Nebuta Festival is held on Sazae-san dori nearby where the creator, Machiko Hasegawa, of the popular cartoon lived.



This guy was freaking little children out... Yeah... Pretty scary!

Here's a couple of short videos of Chindonya! I love it! (Sorry for the poor quality I didn't bring a proper video camera. Maybe next year I will!)


video


video

Here's what Wikipedia says about Chindonya:

Chindon'ya (チンドン屋), also called Japanese marching band, and in the old times also called tōzaiya (東西屋) or hiromeya (広目屋 or 披露目屋) are a type of elaborately costumed street musicians in Japan that advertise for shops and other establishments. The performers advertised the opening of new stores and other venues, or promoted special events such as price discounts. Nowadays, chindon'yas are rare in Japan. The word consists of Japanese sound symbolism chin and don to describe the instruments, and the -ya suffix which roughly equates to the English "-er" suffix in this context.

See you ae the festival next year!