Thursday, February 28, 2013

Alper Kul's "Only a Bomb to Nagasaki?"

By Mike in Tokyo Rogers

I have found a wonderfully done musical piece that has been edited to video for you by an artist named Alper Kul. Alper Kul is from Turkey and he works with electronic musical instruments such as the piano.

Alper Kul uploaded a fine work that I am proud to introduce to you. It is called "Only a Bomb to Nagasaki?" and is simply beautiful and powerful a the same time.

It brought great emotions and tears to my eyes. Please watch this and enjoy!




ONLY A BOMB TO NAGAZAKI ? BY ALPER KUL from Alper KUL on Vimeo.

It is true that some of the scenes are Hiroshima and not Nagasaki but I think that doesn't detract one bit from the message and the beautiful music. I expect to be hearing more from Alper Kul in the future.

Alper Kul has a Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/alperkul1973?fref=ts

His Alper Kul Myspace is here.

If you write to him, tell him Mike in Tokyo Rogers sent you.

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Keywords: Alper Kul, Atomic bomb, Nagasaki, Hiroshima, World War II, Facebook, Myspace, Marketing Japan, Mike Rogers, Mike in Tokyo Rogers


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Follow Up on Islam vs. America


Yesterday, Lew Rockwell graciously published my article comparing the freedoms in an Islamist nation and a fascist country (the United States).

The United States lost.


At a newspaper stand & money exchange in Penang... Get it? Money Exchange? That means this guy has thousands of dollars inside this shack. See any armed guards? No? Neither did I.

Please refer to, 'I Went to an Islamic and a Fascist Country...'


What can I say about this fascist country? I feared for my safety. That country is called a melting pot as it has people living there who come from many different countries with different cultures and they practice many different religions. Even so, I have been told that this country is 70% Christian (they don’t act like Christians!) with the rest a mix of many others. This is not a very peaceful country and it has an extremely high crime rate. There is little freedom to do as one pleases. The government seems to spy on the people for even the most mundane things.

I suppose it's because they are at war constantly

What can I say about the Islamic country? I went to Malaysia. I felt very safe there. Malaysia is called a melting pot as it has people living there who come from many different countries with many different cultures and they practice many different religions. I was told by a Malay taxi driver that Malaysia is a majority Islamic, 25% Buddhist and a small percent Christian nation. Malaysia is a very peaceful country with an extremely low crime rate.

I suppose it’s because they are not at war constantly.


That article has, surprisingly, gotten me zero hate mail from Americans. Perhaps people are finally waking up. Had I written something like that 10 years ago, I would have gotten death threats.

In fact, I did write something like that 8 years ago and I did get many threats against my well-being and several were death threats. That article was entitled; "America is Bankrupt." That article really touched a nerve with some people and Lew Rockwell told me that this article was the second most-read article on LRC for the entire year of 2005. It was just the truth, from my point of view. I guess people didn't like hearing the truth. I can only guess because they knew the situation was bad. But they don't want to hear it from someone else.

You might know that your own kid is dumb, but you don't like it when your next-door neighbor tells you that.

But I digress...

Here is the addendum to the article, 'I Went to an Islamic and a Fascist Country...' This is the "Bonus" information that I didn't add because it wasn't exactly a part of the narrative that compared Malaysia to the USA...This part is more like a comparison of different Islams and what these people think of each other:

An interesting thing that happened in Malaysia was that I saw different sects of Islam while I was there. 

Also, being a curious type, I was very forward and told people that I write and am a radio personality and was interested in knowing the truth so I asked. They were very gracious in answering my questions... 

They all basically said the same thing.  

I was able to have short interviews with 12 different people (mostly women) about their lives and/with Islam.  

In a nutshell, here's the things I learned:  

1) Malaysians are very tolerant of other religions and, in fact, even the Islamic schools and Buddhist schools allow people from different religions to attend. The Chinese girls school in Penang, which is highly favored academically allows all people - even non-Chinese to attend. I could attest to this as I drove by there three times and saw girls non-Chinese girls wearing traditional headdress playing in the soccer field with Chinese girls.  

2) Malaysians seem not too fond of the Middle Eastern people as, I am told, the Middle Eastern people are conceited and talk down to the people of Malaysia as if they are inferior... I would venture to say that this could be close to out-and-out dislike (but these people are very soft-spoken and not likely to openly criticize).  

3) The Malaysian women (the followers of Islam) especially didn't like Middle Eastern men because of their arrogance towards women.  

4) Drinking alcohol is rare, even amongst non-followers of Islam... Amongst followers of Islam, there are people who drink alcohol... Humans? Yep. Shortcomings and backsliding.  

5) The women of Islam cover their bodies because they don't think running around (like women in western countries do) with their flesh hanging out for all men to stare at is a particularly good thing. They believe that their bodies are sacred and something to be shared with one man. They think that being visually raped by strangers (in those stranger's minds) is nothing to be happy nor proud about. The only thing worse and more degrading to women than being raped in some man's imagination is being actually raped in real life.  

There's some more... Much more...But, for this short article, I think you get the picture; there's many different kinds of people.

Tolerance is what we should practice.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Write Down Your Goals to Achieve Them!...


"Life is difficult as it is so let us be good to each other." - C.S. Lewis


Today, I'd like to take a moment to highly recommend a book that has helped me greatly since the first time I read it and that is Brian Tracy's Goals!

I write down my top 10 goals everyday! Inspired by the author of Goals! Brian Tracy (I also recommend another Tracy book, Focal Point)

In Goals! Tracy talks about how, if you are to succeed in life that you need to write down your goals in order to be able to achieve them. "Sure!" Everyone thinks this but I know few who actually do write them down. Trust that writing them down does help your sub-conscious to actually remember and activate your  brain to achieve the goals you set forth for yourself.


I write down my goals everyday in the morning when I wake up and, not only does doing so help me to achieve them, it also helps me to relax and stay much more focused. Who doesn't want to stay more focused in this day and age when our "in-box" includes, for most people, several e-mails accounts that are constantly filling up as the day goes by and consistently altering our priorities? Or an Internet world filled with Social Media like Facebook, Mixi (in Japan) and Linkedin accounts (among others) to attend? Twitter and Pick, are no longer for just sending messages to your friends, but they too, have been co-opted into the business world and your boss orders you to use them, or blogs and SNS, to get the company message out...


How in the world can anyone get ahead of the pile in the "in-box"?



The book promises that you will "Get everything you want, faster than you ever dreamed." Sounds like grandiose claims but let me point out that writing down your goals and purposes is like having a sort of road map to where you want to go. When you write them down, they enter your subconsciousness, they cause your inner brain to focus upon the Law of Attraction. If you do not write down where you want to go - if you do not have a map - then how will you know where you are going?


The publishers write:


Why do some people achieve all their goals while others simply dream of having a better life? Bestselling author Brian Tracy shows that the path from frustration to fulfillment has already been discovered. Hundreds of thousands--even millions--of men and women have started with nothing and achieved great success. Here Tracy presents the essential principles you need to know to make your dreams come true.


Tracy presents a simple, powerful, and effective system for setting and achieving goals--a method that has been used by more than one million people to achieve extraordinary things. In this revised and expanded second edition he has added three new chapters addressing areas in which goals can be most rewarding but also the toughest to set and keep: finances, family, and health.


Using the twenty-one strategies Tracy outlines, you'll be able to accomplish any goals you set for yourself--no matter how big. You'll discover how to determine your own strengths, what you truly value in life, and what you really want to accomplish in the years ahead. Tracy shows how to build your self-esteem and self-confidence, approach every problem or obstacle effectively, overcome difficulties, respond to challenges, and continue forward toward your goals, no matter what happens. Most importantly, you'll learn a system for achievement that you will use for the rest of your life.


One of my goals are to become a multi-millionaire. Laughable? Maybe. But at least I have a road map and I am consciously working on that everyday... 


And I really do have proof! I have evidence that Tracy's philosophy and ideas in Goals! work.  I have shown myself that actually writing down goals are critical to achieving them. And my proof stands in something that, for me, is much more important than the Rat Race and making money: it's being the best dad I can be. 


It used to be my #1 priority was, "To make $15,000 a month..." then, one day, when I got a flash of irritation at something my son did - then thought about that flash later on - I realized that the most important thing for me was not money. By far the most important thing for me was to be a great dad. 


Now my #1 priority goal that I write everyday is; "I am a kind, loving and patient father and husband today and everyday" (with today's date added).


Folks, trust me. This really works! Since starting this habit, I have caught myself several times with a flash of irritation at my son - that  before would have caused me to get angry or upset and maybe raise my voice - but since I started writing down everyday my goal of  being patient and kind, my mind recalls that goal immediately and has killed that flash of anger instantly its tracks. 


Why ruin what could be a good learning opportunity and great memory with an out burst of irritability? What for? Life is too short to be getting upset at the small stuff all the time. 


As the great writer C.S. Lewis wrote in Chronicles of Narnia, "Life is difficult as it is so let us be good to each other."


Try reading Brian Tracy's Goals! Write down your goals everyday. You'll be glad you did. 


(This article was inspired by a meeting I had with a most interesting fellow named Roger Marshall. Thank you, Roger!) 


Also read: 

Pocket Notebooks: The Secret of Millionaires and People Won't Listen! 


One Easy Step To Becoming a Better Parent and More Successful at Life 

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keywords: Pick, C.S. Lewis, Twitter, SNS, e-mail, Goals!, Blogs, blogging, Youtube, U-stream, Brian Tracy, Narnia, Facebook, Mixi, Linkedin, Japan, SNS, Internet, business, Japanese, priority, Social Media

Saturday, February 23, 2013

I Will be Interviewed on a US East Coast TV News Program Tomorrow Sunday Feb. 24 (Sat. 2/23 US time)


I will be interviewed on Gary Franchi's program

I will be on an US East Coast TV news program being interviewed about issues concerning the differences between Japan and the USA dealing with gun control, expatriation, immigration, the economy and the view of the United States from here across the Pacific on Sat. 2/23 6 pm & 11 pm EST. (Japan time 8 am & 1pm Sunday, 2/24.) The interview starts at about the half way mark of the show and continues for a good 15 minutes. 

http://usmediavault.com/stream.php?s=whdt 

私はアメリカのテレビのニュースでインタビューされます。
明日、2月24日, (日) 午前8:25~再び13:25~見てください: http://usmediavault.com/stream.php?s=whdt

Friday, February 22, 2013

Moving to Japan? Beware of the Culture Shock! Oh, and the Tentacles!


I have a friend whose son is moving to Japan. We've been having some correspondence and I really want to help my friend's son get acclimated and become successful in the Land of the Rising Sun (Gee, does that mean I have to immediately take him out every night getting so drunk we can barely walk home and have him start smoking two packs of cigarettes everyday within the first two days? No! That can wait at least a week or two!)

Seriously, I want to help any way I can so I thought I should bring up a nasty subject and that is about Culture Shock.

Here's what I wrote to my friend:


Culture shock can really screw people up. Years ago, I was the liasion between foreigners and the Japanese management for a big company in Tokyo. We had about 480 foreign staff. From that experience, I've seen people just totally and completely fall apart. Really.

It really hits people when they become ill with the flu or something. It happened to me!

I got the flu one time and was sick as a dog... All I wanted was to have for breakfast two eggs, bacon, toast and orange juice... That's not asking a lot, is it? Well, in Japan, it was... 

I got the two eggs, bacon, toast and orange juice, but it's not the same in Japan as it is in the United States. I know that this is difficult to understand, but trust me, there is no restaurant or person in this country that can make bacon and eggs like mom can... For one, mom isn't here in Japan and for two, even the bacon and the eggs, toast and juice are different.

Really. They are. You have a very hard time finding a restaurant in Japan (that's not inside a major hotel) that  makes bacon and eggs like you get in the states (even inside a major hotel, I think you have trouble...) In Japan, they don't know how to cook an egg over-easy or over-medium; In Japan, the toast is sliced massively thick (or too thin) and they often cut the crusts off (Sure, Wonder Bread sucks, but when you're sick and longing for home style food, it sounds "Wonder-ful" (Sorry for the pun!)); and the bacon? Nope. No way. There is no such thing as a slice of crispy bacon in all of Japan... I know. I checked...

Hell, the bacon is different so it's even hard to make bacon at your Japanese apartment that is like the bacon mom makes! 

And juice? You kiddin' me? My episode was in the late 1970s so it is much better now. Back in the late 1970s there was no such thing as what Americans call "juice" - meaning something like 100% fresh squeezed or even concentrate - back then "juice", in Japan, meant something like Fanta Orange Juice.

Really. All I WANTED WAS A SIMPLE GLASS OF JUICE AND THEY BROUGHT ME SOMETHING LIKE FANTA ORANGE! THAT'S NOT JUICE!  I wanted to scream! :-@ #$!!@| :-@ !!!!Z>?}! How hard could it be to get a simple glass of juice?

Well, in 1979 Japan, impossible!

"You sick and want eggs and bacon just like mom made for breakfast?"
"Well, we don't have that, but how about some nice tentacles, instead?"

That seemingly benign episode of the flu with no eggs and bacon like mom makes set me off on a deep Culture Shock experience too! 

When living in Japan if Culture Shock sets in then if the person doesn't come out of it relatively quickly, I've seen them fall into serious clinical depression. If that happens, they are finished.... I've seen that happen more times than I can count...

One time, there was a guy who came here from Iowa (or was it Illinois?) and within 3 weeks, he was in serious depression and we had to send him back to the USA. Why? When he got here, he thought he was going to see a Japan that had Samurai and geisha running around (no joke) and so, when he arrived, and saw a big city and business people in suits, it freaked him out.

You can't make this stuff up. I remember seeing my face in his one morning when he was bursting at the seems and complaining about not being able to get a decent steak and eggs breakfast in Tokyo and insisting that I take him to a McDonald's (there were only a few in 1984) so that he could at least get some pancakes. he said he wanted a "Home cooked meal!" I wondered what kind of home he was from if McDonald's pancakes were his idea of "home-cooked"!

Your son won't be that bad, of course (I trust). But I HIGHLY recommend that he familiarize himself with Culture Shock, what it is and its symptoms, so he can expect it and know what's happening when it comes and be more able to deal with it. I knew about it so I think that helped me from not becoming more of a psychotic than I already am.

Heck, I have a friend whose younger brother came here and he lived with Japanese people all his life... He even had a Japanese mom! And he had seriously bad culture shock for at least three months.... And I know he was so incapacitated and depressed that he missed work for several weeks. I don't know what happened to him.

You son (and dear reader) will be better off if he understands that he will have Culture Shock like everyone else does.... In fact, if he understands it and expects it, it might bounce off him like rain on a duck!

And that was basically the letter. 

I hope my friend's son come to Japan and does well. I love this place and have never regretted moving here. 

If you decide to come to Japan to live please do yourself a favor and at least get a cursory understanding of Culture Shock and be ready for it when it comes. That way, you'll understand what is happening and it will just be another part of the experience.

For a humorous article on the same subject, may I recommend this? Five Things They Never Tell You About Living in Japan

Dedicated to my friends, Mark Davis and Shea Davis

The Collapse of Old Media - the Rise of Wi-Fi Broadcasting!


It's a recurring theme in many of my blogs; the old order is quickly collapsing right in front of our faces; TV and radio are dying a slow death. Now here is an explanation how Wi-Fi could be the final nail in the coffin.

Viewership and listenership of TV and radio are sliding down a steep slope. Of course, as for TV, think about it; anyone who has the time, in this day and age, to sit for 3 or 4 (more?) hours a day, everyday, in front of the TV must either be;

a) Jobless
b) Poor
c) Inactive
d) Lazy

Hate to be so rough sounding but I can't think of any sponsors who want to advertise or market to people who are inactive, lazy or have no money... Unless, of course, the sponsors are fast food or ice cream and sweets...

Most TV & radio stations are both heading the way of the Short-Wave or Ham radios. The Internet is allowing for totally new ways for entertainment to be delivered to a targeted audience. Why would sponsors waste huge budgets on TV advertising that advertises to EVERYBODY when they can target their select group?

They won't. That's why old media is dying a slow death. Read more about that here and here in two articles I wrote about the Long Tail.



To prove that this collapse of the old order is not happening just in Japan, here's an article from the Washington Post that talks about TV getting the worst ratings in history:


NEW YORK (AP) — Americans avoided television in historic levels over the past week.
CBSNBCABC and Fox together had the smallest number of prime-time viewers last week in two decades of record-keeping, the Nielsen Co. said. Given the dominance of the big broadcasters before then, you'd probably have to go back to the early days of television to find such a collective shrug.
The first week of July tends to be among the slowest weeks of the year in television, anyway, with families more engaged in barbecues and fireworks. The problem was magnified this year because July Fourthcame on Sunday, largely knocking out one of a typical week's biggest viewing nights.
Together, the four networks averaged 18.9 million viewers last week, Nielsen said. During the season, "American Idol" alone usually gets a bigger audience than that.
I'm sure that this sort of article will be coming out less and less in the near future. Why?

Because every week will be worse than the last one for TV, radio, magazines and old media. And this sort of story is becoming old hat really quickly.

The only place that will shine from here on out is the Internet. The revolution is being televised - not by what TV is showing, but by what they don't show.

Also, and this is not yet widely publicized but, data currently shows that 68.4% of all Japanese household now have Wi-Fi. It is estimated that by 2017, that number will be over 88%. Also consider the fact that many people now use "pocket" (portable) Wi-Fi in their cars and outside. Wi-Fi is, folks, a broadcast signal.

Wi-Fi can carry both television and radio and Internet broadcasts (of course)... Now, think about this, folks...

It is estimated that a near 100% penetration of all Japanese households will be achieved by 2023. If Wi-Fi is a broadcasting signal, which it is, then de-facto Wi-Fi can broadcast TV and radio, etc. then why does a manufacturer like, say, Panasonic, need a TV or radio station for?

They don't.

Think about it. A company like Panasonic wants to communicate directly with customers, but under the old order (Broadcasting laws), they can't. The middleman in all communications as of today are the mass media... But what happens to the mass media when companies like Panasonic, Sony, Toyota no longer need them and can communicate directly to potential customers via Wi-Fi? And, since Wi-Fi is an extremely short distance signal, Wi-Fi REQUIRES NO BROADCASTING LICENSE!

The only thing the major manufacturers and sponsors need is content. They DO NOT need TV and radio stations for content. In fact, most TV and many radio stations (especially in Japan) do not create content: outside production companies do. In many cases, especially in Japan, broadcast stations are merely a platform.

This means that companies like Panasonic (or your favorite company's name  here) no longer needs to pay the middleman broadcasting companies anymore. They can use their own broadcasting set-ups going into the homes through Wi-Fi... Wi-Fi has an unlimited number of channels too!

And, then, think about this, if the advertisers and sponsors can create their own content and go directly to the audience, then why wouldn't they? And when that happens, who will the TV stations and major mass media get to buy their broadcasts?

No one, I reckon.

Content will always be king, but broadcasting platforms, like TV, radio, cable and satellite TV channels are in trouble. By the way, most of the upper executives at broadcasting stations already know about this (at least the smart ones do) so what I am telling you isn't a shock to them...

Like I said, TV and radio are dying a slow death. This news isn't a revelation; it's a death sentence.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Cannot Compare USA and Japan - A Reader's Letter


Concerning my most recent article at Lew Rockwell, "Gun Control and Japan" in which I wrote; 

"Is directly comparing Japan’s gun laws and crime rate with the USA a good and logical comparison? Does this make sense? Are the progressives bringing up a point that is difficult to argue against? Can we make an apples-to-apples comparison using Japan against the USA?

The answer is no. Unfortunately for the progressives, we can’t sensibly make that comparison and I want to show you why it’s absurd to even consider it. The only things that might make sense in a Japan versus USA comparison might have to do with economics, automobiles, love of sushi and baseball (and I’m not so sure about the baseball part). If we are talking about gun control, crimes, or even universal health care, Japan and the United States are two animals that are as different as night and day...


...I think it must be pretty obvious to anyone who thinks about it when talking about gun control and crimes (or even universal health care) comparing the United States to Japan is like comparing a steak barbecue to a slice of fish."


The response to that article was very good with only one person telling me that I am a moron (thanks dad!). But I did get one letter from a reader that really touched my heart. It struck me as a sort of whimsical (for lack of a better term) look back at a better time in America, though it is not stated so directly. In fact, this letter reflects my thinking (and chagrin) about the United States today.

Dear Mike,

As you are fully aware, it is not "fair" to compare two countries. It isn't even fair to compare two different US regions or even two US states, even when they share boarders! It isn't even an even ground when comparing a population of one state...before the devastating influx of illegals, but before that was the change in immigration policies.

What we are able to compare with just about any two countries is the government vs. the people. While culture and mindset may be different, most people groups, if left "alone," are much more interested in their family group, basic needs being met, and their culture/arts. Unfortunately, governments with power and money (debt) behind them, will not allow this to happen. The love of power and control is inherently evil.

I remember how much better life was years ago, even when the societal decent had been in motion. Our moral compass had not been totally removed. In every society since Adam, evil has been present, but at least in those years, there was still a societal veneer to cover up the ugly sewer life. Today, the veneer has been removed and people are embracing and celebrating filth and sewer scum as if it were natural and edifying.

I find it hard to believe with the influence of media upon all modern societies that the Japanese culture has not been affected by it. The changes are probably manifested differently. The US culture was probably "less restrictive" and already "under attack" than the Japanese culture in the early part of the 20th century. (Was the women's movement already underway in Japan as in the US starting with the "flapper" era?) War(s) is the quickest way to societal change. Those who "developed" the war(s) won, and those who were the patsies--all those who participated-- lost the war--no matter what the "history" books say. Society as we knew it was over, but most people didn't notice the slow decent into the abyss until now. It is probably too late. It is a very sad thing.


Mrs. R

Yes. It is a very sad thing. Too bad too few people seem to realize it... It is, indeed, far too late. 

"I remember how much better life was years ago...." Whatever happened to that wonderful place I lived in so many years ago in my youth? 

Thank you, Mrs. R. Thanks for the mail and thanks for allowing me to go back to my youth for even a few seconds.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Japanese Schoolgirls Now "Wearing Panties on Their Heads" Trend


OK. My friend in California, "Al", has written to me to ask if this "story about Japanese girl's wearing panties on their heads" trend is true.

I checked. It's true... Sort of... I'm not saying that there is a trend whereby Japanese high school girls are wearing panties on their head. I'm saying that it is true that there is a story about Japanese girls wearing panties on their heads as being a trend.


Well, no... Seeing is not believing. This is Japan after all!

And whenever there's this sort of nonsense of the Geek variety about Japan, I don't have any problem finding out about it. There's only one place to even bother looking to find the answer: The Akiba Blog!

I'm not saying this "trend" is true at all. All I'm saying is that I found this article; it is true that there is an article. Today, near the station, I saw dozens and dozens of high school girls walking home from school and did not see a one with panties on her head.

Akiba Blog has photos and the "story." It's in Japanese but you can use Google translate to get the story in English though.... But why bother? They say a picture speaks a thousands words, right? What more is there to say? 



Go there and check the story... For me, every time I look at the Akiba Blog, I feel like I have to take a shower and that's what I'm going to do right now...

Monday, February 18, 2013

Japan is One of the Best Places to Live in the World Reason #4: You Call This Crime? Man Steals $6 Chocolate, Hits National News!


You read that headline correctly.

In Japan, last night on the headlines of the world's biggest newspaper, the Yomiuri Shimbun; a newspaper that was established in 1874 - that has over 13.5 million newspapers delivered daily, ran a Headline News story read about a 44-year-old man who stole some Valentine's Day chocolate because, "He wanted some."

Saints preserve us! Is this the beginning of some kind of out-of-control criminal crime wave sweeping the nation?


Yes. They have Hershey Kisses in Japan! 
(And on Valentine's Day in Japan, 
the girls give the guys the chocolate - NOT the other way around!)

Now, this isn't just a story about why Japan blows away most of the rest of the world when it comes to a lack of crime, it also is a story about the general psyche of people in this country. 

But first, here's a quick and simple translation of the story:

The Yomiuri Shimbun headlines read; 

"Man claims, after stealing chocolate, 'I wanted some.'"

On the 16th of this month, police in Sendai in Miyagi prefecture arrested a 44-year-old unemployed man on suspicion of theft.

According to the police statement, at about 2:40 am on that day, the suspect was in Miyagino City in the vicinity of an apartment where a 31-year-old civil servant lived and saw some Valentine's Day chocolate and other items in a vinyl bag hanging from the handlebars of the bicycle owned by that civil servant. The chocolate had a value of ¥550 (about $5.93 USD). When the suspect took the chocolate, the 31-year-old civil servant gave chase and subdued the suspect.

Upon being asked why he stole the chocolate, the suspect was quoted as saying (testifying), "I wanted some chocolate!"

Feb. 17, 2013, Yomiuri Shimbun


The online edition of this story

Now, people are often asking why Japan I think is a much better place to live than, say, the United States and it's often difficult to point out specifics as to why. But when it comes to crime, Japan is miles away safer than just about any western country in the world. I never have to worry about my wife or daughters going out at night. 

But this little anecdote about the chocolate also shows us a glimpse of something very important about the Japanese psyche that is difficult to put a finger on.

This story shows what the level of crime is in this country and what people think about crime in general. From my westerner perspective, that this sort of story could even hit the newspapers is amazing; and we're not talking about some local newspaper here! We are talking about a national newspaper in a country of 130 million people that has a circulation of 13.5 million copies daily! 

This sort of crime would never make any major newspaper in the USA... I think even local newspapers wouldn't run this!

Also, one more thing about the Japanese... And this too is an intangible, but this article points to it. The Japanese are generally shy and humble people... Where I come from, Los Angeles, I hear it is a badge of honor for head bangers to get arrested and have a criminal record. Not in Japan. In Japan, a criminal record is a shameful thing. Shameful for that person and very shameful for the family.

I think when most Japanese hear this story they think, "Stealing is a crime and that's bad! He should never do that!" The Japanese pretty much have a zero-tolerance for this sort of thing... Of course that 31-year-old guy wouldn't let the old thief slide. Theft is theft in this country and a shameful act; it must be dealt with properly.

I think, "Poor guy." Heck, if that were my chocolate and he stole it (and I chased him - which I probably wouldn't do) and caught him and he meekly said, "I just wanted some chocolate..." I probably would have felt sorry for the guy and gave him the chocolate... Heck, I probably would have bought him some cigarettes and a beer too... After that? Who knows? If he were even luckier, maybe I would even have given him a Valentine's Day wink and a kiss too!

Poor guy indeed.



Sunday, February 17, 2013

First Plum Blossoms in Tokyo Feb. 14, 2013


There's an old guy who lives in an apartment building near me who also collects and raises Bonsai trees. I see him outside everyday taking care of the trees that are placed outside of his apartment building. What is wonderful about them is not only their beauty and the art, but the fact that they are worth hundreds of dollars each yet he doesn't lock them up and no one steals them or vandalizes them.

You know what would happen to them overnight in the USA, right?

Anyway, I walked by on Thursday and was very happily surprised to see the first blossoms in Tokyo that I have seen this year so far. They were on one of the old guy's Bonsai trees. I asked if I could take a picture and he was very happy to allow me to do so. So here I want to share them with you.


The first blossoms of 2013. For me, these represent good fortune and prosperity!


This is a photo of the entire Bonsai tree. I'd say it was about 2 feet tall (about 60 centimeters) tall and about twenty years old. The old guy told me that the blossoms were out "About a week to two weeks early this year." That surprised me because this winter has been so cold and snowy. I guess Hanami (Cherry Blossom Viewing time) is going to come early this year!


Also, since those were the only plum blossom flowers I've seen in Tokyo so far, I wanted to share some more great Mt. Fuji photos I have. This one was taken by my friend, Yuki Koizumi.... Beautiful!



This next few were taken near my house by the Tamagawa River on Feb. 17, 2013. In the background, Mt. Fuji. In the middle, you can see the Japanese "Boys of Summer" (baseball players) playing baseball in February while it's freezing cold outside (the puddles on the ground were frozen!)



This one reminds me of one of Hokusai's "36 Views of Mt. Fuji" in that in some of those, it's difficult to pick out Mt. Fuji.... But there she is in the very middle on the horizon covered in snow!


To see more beautiful images of Mt. Fuji and Japan see: Images of Mt. Fuji and Isehara, in Kanagawa, Japan at New Year 

How to Win at Life! - Positive Thinking Will Create Your Own Luck! The Joy is in the Action!


About one year ago today, I wrote a blog post entitled, "Winning at Raffles, Bingo and Winning at Life Are Exactly the Same! Here's 5 Simple Tips on How to Win at All of Them!" I know that it must have been about one year ago today because last night was the annual Bingo tournament at the local international school again and, just like last year, my son won again... In fact, he won four times out of twelve games. Granted that there's six to eight winners every game, so out of twelve games, there's a total of about 72 prizes... But in an auditorium of 700~800 people and most people playing more than two or three bingo cards, the odds of winning four times in one sitting are pretty minuscule.


A family that can spend time together having fun is winning at life!

That wasn't his record, though, one time he won five times in one sitting.

Anyway, from that blog post a year ago, "Winning at Raffles, Bingo and Winning at Life Are Exactly the Same! Here's 5 Simple Tips on How to Win at All of Them!" I wrote: 

Winning at raffles, bingo and winning at life are very, almost eerily, similar and I'd like to talk to you about that today. I think, if there is anything that I have been a massive success in my life at is that is being able to convince my children that they will win. I have shown them that the way to win is by first believing that you will win. I have even convinced - may I suggest that I brainwashed - my third daughter into believing that she would conquer "incurable" forth stage cancer. 

But before I go into theory and philosophy more, allow me to continue with telling you about the past and our "luck" and wins in all sorts of games and winning at bingo. Two years ago, we won the very top prize of a vacation to Okinawa that included hotel and airfare. Yesterday, he won the trip to New York. In February of this year, he won a gift certificate worth several hundred dollars at a very famous store in Tokyo. Last year, he won five times out of a total of 12 games or so in one tournament. Think about that; there are seven hundred people all competing at bingo trying to win the prize. To win once is enough to bring wide smiles and cheers to anybody's face. But he won five games in one night! That must be a record. Every time my son won, people were astounded. By the forth time he won, everyone was clapping for him. By the fifth time, people were verbally shouting, "That's incredible!" "I've never heard of such a thing."

Yesterday, again, when my son won the first time, people were laughing and saying, "There he goes again! He always wins!" By the time he won the second, third or even forth time, people seemed dumbfounded. Actually, I was sitting across from my son and watching him. He came awfully close to winning another six times or so. A few times, he sat with a card that almost immediately had four numbers in a row waiting for his final number to be called. But the numbers didn't come. A few times, the announcer called and called out another dozen numbers or so, until someone else finally called out "Bingo!" 

My son, after winning the four times, was going after a record-breaking (at least for him) sixth time.

Now, how does winning at bingo and winning at life relate to each other?

Well, I hate sounding like a salesman, because I'm not selling you anything, but I'm here to tell you right now you can become one of those lucky people... 

There are two really important things that you need to understand about becoming one of these lucky people. One is understanding what exactly it is that we are doing and its purpose in our life; and the second part is how these things affect your entire belief system. These two go hand in hand. 


A happy kid who actually believes... This is the true lesson I want to teach him about life... Who cares about trinkets?

The first part about understanding what it is that we are doing is, perhaps, the most important part. Today, we're using bingo as an example, so let's go with that. Think about this; is winning at bingo the best part of going to bingo? Is winning everything? I don't think so.

At bingo, I meet friends and other parents and always smile and shake their hands and say, "Hi!" We are all at bingo so, of course, the subject quickly turns to bingo. I always try to be extremely positive and say, "I always win!" They laugh. They don't believe me (the ones who knows us well don't laugh). Invariably, they all say the same thing,

"I never win." 

They say this with a voice of exasperation and defeat. Poor folks. They are totally and completely missing the point. They are really missing the boat in the bad lesson that they are unknowingly teaching their children subconsciously. Get this: I suggest to you that they are teaching their children defeatism and a losing attitude. 

I can imagine this family in my head; after "losing" at bingo (I mean they don't win a "prize"), they hop in the car and go home. Dad and mom and kids are sad because they "didn't win." When they get into the house, dad takes off his coat and gives out a very loud sigh. "We lost again!" He says.

Is that any way to teach your children how to win? Is that anyway to teach your children how to be positive?  

Here is what I always tell my son before we play bingo;

"Remember the best part of bingo is not in the winning, it is in the doing. Just being able to be here playing bingo is winning. This is fun and it is a wonderfully exciting time we spend together. Just by being here, we have already won. So smile and let's have fun!" 

It is. Playing bingo with my wife and son is a great memory and it is so very much fun. 

I tell my son this because I want him to be a winner. I want him to understand what "being a winner" truly is. This sort of thinking, this positive attitude, actually, I learned from an old Zen Buddhist saying,

"The joy is in the action, not in the result."

Can you understand this concept? The joy is in the action, not the result. Get it? I think people who truly love to paint or fish or golf, etc., can understand this. For the painter, a beautiful work is nice, but the true value and joy is not the finished painting, it is in the action of painting. For the fisherman, of course catching a fish is fun, but the true joy is standing there alone in front of nature and contemplating life - the joy is in the doing; for the golfer, the winning score is interesting, but soon forgotten; the real joy is in the day and the time considering the play. For all of them, the real value is in the action, not in the result. 

This is what is meant by, "The joy is in the action, not in the result."

Now, do you understand why, whether or not my son wins a big prize (a trinket), he knows, he believes and knows in his heart that he is a true winner? Can anyone deny that, regardless of prize, that we won merely by being able to go and play together and enjoy this moment together on our short time on this earth? 

So, people do not win a trinket! Think about it; how many others are suffering? How many families would love to visit bingo together as a family but one child is ill in the hospital with a deadly disease? How many people in this world can't enjoy even having shoes upon their feet? Yet these families can come to the bingo event with their children and enjoy a wonderful exciting time together! Spending this short fleeting time with ones children while you can is winning in every sense of the word.

If your kids are healthy and you have the time to spend with them at a school function playing Bingo, or even reading a book together then, trust me, you have already won..... You are alive. You are together. You and your child are healthy? You are a winner.

So remember, my friends, what winning really is. Is it getting a package of trinkets or tickets to go somewhere or is it spending a lovely time together and giving your child your complete and total self and your dedication and time?

So for this Sunday morning, look at your children. Do you have a happy and healthy family? Yes? Then remember, that whether it is a bingo or a raffle or a drawing, or whatever; if your children are healthy and you are spending a fun time together with them, that alone makes you a grand prize winner in life! Never forget that.

So smile and say, "Yes! I won!"

Some people will scoff at this (they have a losing attitude). But let me ask you to consider this question: There are two children. They both have to go to school. One wakes up in the morning and says, "I don't want to go to school. School is no fun." The other wakes up and says, "I want to go to school. School is fun." Which kid gets good grades at school? Which kid becomes successful at school? Which kid is positive, is popular, gets the best girlfriend or boyfriend and becomes class king or class queen?

Simple, isn't it? It is the old chicken and the egg problem. Which came first? The kid liking school or the positive attitude? Which came first? Hating school or the negative attitude? And how did these children get these attitudes?

How do these attitudes affect our belief system? How can we change these attitudes? And, if we have children, how can we stop teaching them bad attitudes and start teaching them beneficial ones?

I think it is obvious how these attitudes affect our belief system. In the example above, do you want to be like the father above who comes home exasperated and continually expressed doubt and a defeatist attitude to himself or his children, or, do you want to be the person who understands that the joy is in the action and not the result?

Again, yesterday, before bingo started, I met a few people who claimed that my family always wins and that their family never wins. Again, I said to them what I always say,

"With saying that, it is very difficult for you to win. Imagine the Wright Brothers! Do you think they could have flown in an airplane had they not believed they could fly? Don't you think that everyone told them it was impossible? If you think you won't win, isn't that a sort of 'self-fulling prophesy'?

Many people told the Wright Brothers that, "If god had meant man to fly, he'd have given man wings." But the Wright Brothers didn't listen. They believed and their belief made them succeed. Do you think they could succeed if they didn't believe? Everyone knows the power of positive thinking!

Take the story of Jesus walking on water. In my thinking, man cannot walk on water; it is impossible. But, I believe that this story about Jesus is not literal. What I believe it represents is Jesus preaching faith and belief (read: the power of positive thinking). Of course man cannot walk on water. Walking on water is impossible. But! If man believes that he can accomplish the impossible, then he can.

That's what the story about Jesus walking on water represents to me... So can man walk on water? No! That's impossible, but in Matthew 14, Jesus walked on water and accomplished the impossible. See what I mean? The story of Jesus walking on water seems a parable to me to mean that if you believe, if you really believe, you can move mountains.... 

Gee, moving a mountain is impossible too... But people do that too!"

Believe and you can win! It doesn't matter if it's something as silly as bingo or a raffle... But believe and be positive and you can win at much more important things like life, love and success.

And now, from that former post, here's tips on concrete things that you can do  to turn your situation around and make things better STARTING RIGHT NOW:

From today, here's five things that you need to do to start on the track to believing that you can win at bingo and win at life:

1) Write down on three pieces of paper the saying, "The joy is in the action, not in the result." Tape one of the pieces of paper to the refrigerator and tape one in your car where you see it constantly and the last one in your wallet. Think about that phrase a lot. Repeat it out loud whenever or wherever you can.

2) Get a dollar notebook and start writing down your top 10 goals for your life and do it everyday! Here's how.

3) Wake up in the morning and the first thing you MUST do is think: "Smile! Today is going to be a great day!" If you can't remember to do this by yourself, then write it in large red letters on a piece of paper and tape it to your bathroom mirror.

4) Start using the Law of Attraction and positivity to create a good self-fulling prophesy to help you. Here's how

5) Start greeting everyone you meet with a happy and healthy "Hello!" or "Good Morning!" Stop sounding like you are dead to the world. If you greet people with an un-energetic salutation then you sound like you are losing. Stop it immediately. Everyone is searching for positive people. You should be that person. Instead of being "dark" and absorbing light like a sponge, you should give out light. People are attracted to light.

And, number six, OK, I said there'd be only five, so sue me...

6) Call your mom or dad or kids and tell them you love them and do it RIGHT NOW! Don't hesitate! Or, better yet, give them a great big hug and tell them yourself how much you love them and how beautiful they are. Realize that today is a fantastic day and you all are the luckiest people in the world... (Oh, and of you do go to bingo, take grandma... She's lucky, right?) 

Some people read this and think that I am a very lucky person. I am. But I've been through two divorces, a war with cancer, family members dying in bizarre car accidents, worrying about work as we all do (nothing special)... I've been through a lot of difficult times... But you know what? I never forget something special; I know that projecting negativity will just make things worse; I know that projecting positivity, in the face of great challenges, is creating a good outcome for myself and my loved ones through the power of the Law of Attraction. I know that, by being happy and thankful that I create a better situation for you and a better situation for myself.

Remember my friends, "The joy is in the action, not in the result."

Stay happy. Stay positive. Spread positivity. You already possess the greatest prize of all.


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NOTES: More tips on winning at life, being more positive and a better parent:

One Easy Step to Becoming a Better Parent and More Successful at Life

Pocket Notebooks - the Secret of Millionaires and People Won't Listen

How to Stop Worrying so much and Become More Successful at Life

Make Your Own Success

One Easy Step To Becoming a Better Parent and More Successful at Life 

Power of Positive Thinking and Self Fulfilling Prophesy 

Positive Thinking: The Story of A Guy Who Defeated 4th Stage Cancer - Two Sides of the Positive/Negative Thinking Coin