Thursday, January 30, 2014

Japan Becomes World's #1 Music Market by Wide Margin

Japan has now definitively surpassed the USA as the world's #1 music market according to IFPI data.

I've written repeatedly about the music market in Japan. One of my favorites is here: Why Good UK and USA (Western) Independent and Alternative Artists Cannot Get Record or Publishing Deals in Japan.

I've also been doing my new morning show on InterFM called, "WTF?" (What the Friday?) Where we always try to play lots of new music. Many of the foreign artists we play tell me that their Japan sales have surpassed their US sales. I always tell them, "Because, in Japan, people still pay for music and CDs still sell here." (Musicians! Come "Like" our FB page:

Now, I've found a wonderful article that backs me up.

Here's a nice tidbit:

"Food, taxi rides, cinema tickets and even iTunes downloads are all way more expensive in Japan than in the USA. So a big part of the reason is that every download sold in Japan earns over twice the amount of money that it does in the USA. I will repeat this. To sell music is over twice as profitable in Japan as in most other countries specially the USA. That factor alone would almost completely explain the sameness in revenues of a country half the size."

Read the full article here...

Monday, January 27, 2014

My Life is Like a "B" Grade Horror Movie

I have been thinking about writing another book. Well, actually, I've been thinking that since 2005, since the first, and only, book I ever wrote came out.

It was a terrible book. I hope I can write a better one next time... Then again, on second thought, a third grader could probably write a better book than my first one. It was crappy.

Mike Rogers (me) self-portrait of what I looked like while in Austin, Texas

I've been inspired to write a new book by three things. One was my new favorite blogger, who wrote a post entitled; Why and How I Self-Published a Book. (If that link doesn't work, try this one:

In that post he explains why and how he wrote the book. I like the ideas. Actually, I hate publishers and I hated dealing with those people who published my first book and never want to do that again. I also want to publish the book and give it away for totally and completely free.

I want to tell stories and I think I am good at it. And, at this time in my life, I am not so interested in doing it for money. Maybe someday, but not now. 

My biggest problem was how I was going to tie up all these bizarre stories I have in my mind (all true stories, too!) and all this crazy sh*t I've done (and lived to tell the story about) into one coherent book.... 

Now, I realized how to do it... Hence the title of this post.

Another thing that has inspired me is that, since coming back from that hellish trip to the USA, I think my writing has, for some inexplicable reason, improved by leaps and bounds... Not that you could tell by my readership which sits where it always has.

The third thing that inspired me was I met a lady today who was an acupuncturist trained in Austin Texas. She didn't look like she was from Texas. She was either Korean or Japanese and studied in Austin. That seems strange to me. Doesn't that seem strange to you? I mean, here was this pretty Asian woman who learned acupuncture in Austin Texas? How does that work? Doesn't there seem like there is something strange about that?

Anyhow, when she told me she studied in Austin I told that I had been there before and that I thought people in Austin Texas were crazy... (As if anyone from Southern California has any right to call anyone else crazy! Southern California has the craziest people in the world, I think... Excepting for, maybe, New Yorkers...)

She laughed and agreed with me. Maybe she thought it were true or maybe I still have that killer charm with the ladies. Probably the former since I was at acupuncture and an 85-year-old man probably could turn their neck farther and faster than I could. I couldn't turn my neck at all.


I started telling her and the other doctors about the one time I went to Austin Texas in 2005... Cindy Sheehan, the anti-war protestor mother whose son, Casey, had been killed in the war, was having a protest near the Bush ranch in Austin. There were people from around the world gathering there to see her and to support her protest against the Iraq war. Since I was a regular columnist for the well known Libertarian site Lew, she asked me to come and show support from Japan. I accepted the invitation. Hence... I told the acupuncturists about how I flew to the USA to join this protest. 

I might call this episode: 

Austin, Texas, USA, 2005: the Land of the Free

I had heard that the US authorities were frowning upon people going to Austin so, in order to hide my intentions, I flew into Atlanta Georgia and transferred there to a flight to Austin. In my twisted mind, I figured that if I flew into Atlanta first, and not Austin, the immigration and customs authorities wouldn't think twice about my intentions. I thought they'd definitely give me trouble if I flew in direct from Japan.

To make sure I had a good cover story, I created a fake google email account and sent myself an email claiming that it was from my cousin and that 110-year-old "Aunt Emma" was dying and that the entire family was waiting for me to hurry up and visit before it was too late. I printed that email out and it was good that I did. It seemed the immigration and customs agent was suspicious of me and when I showed him the letter and acted like I was about to cry, he let me go by immediately. 

I grabbed my Oscar award for best acting, er, I mean my connecting flight boarding pass and off to Austin I went. 

I finally arrived at Austin International airport after about 24 hours of traveling from Japan. I was exhausted. My great friend, Steve (not his real name) picked me up in his dirty pickup truck. He needed gas money, I gave it to him and we headed off to his place as that was where I was staying.

Like I said, I was exhausted and my brain was fried to a crisp. The last thing I needed was loud, fast, hard-core thrash punk rock music blasting in my ear. Steve gave it to me. He delivered it at pretty much full-volume all the way to his apartment.

I laugh now, but it was hell at the time.

Once arriving at the apartment, I told Steve that all I wanted was to take a shower, have a drink and go to sleep. The shower was no problem. The drink and sleep were another story.

Since it was a Sunday, Steve told me that Austin was a "dry" city and that alcohol sales were prohibited on Sundays. Christian nation and all. I couldn't believe it. Didn't Steve at least have a beer in the fridge? Nope. He didn't drink. Neither did any of his friends he proudly informed me.

Snorting cocaine and smoking marijuana were another story, though. Steve began lighting up joints immediately as we entered his abode. 

Steve coughed and snorted as he to tried to hold in the puff as he handed the joint towards my direction..."Mike, you can't buy any beer on Sunday's, it's against the law. So why don't you smoke one of these?" (As if smoking marijuana wasn't against the law!?)

I put my hand up in a 'no thanks' gesture... "No. Really, Steve. I don't do that anymore. Seriously. I can't just go and buy a beer?"

"Nope. Not on a Sunday." He gasped as he lit the spiff again.

"But what about that convenience store I saw around the corner? I can just go there and buy one, can't I?"

"Nope." He said as he concentrated on his new friend in his right hand...

Not being the kind of guy who takes "no" for an answer, I changed clothes, got up and headed out the door. I figured that money talks and that I could bribe my way into a beer or two. I walked into the convenience store and said to the clerk,

"Look. Here is my passport. See? I don't live in the USA. All I want to do is to buy a beer and go to sleep. I just came in from Japan and I'm exhausted." The clerk said,

"Wish I could help you but alcohol sales are illegal on Sundays."

"Yeah, I know that. How about if I give you $20 to sell me just one beer?" The clerk shook their head, "No!" I kept upping the bribe,

"$50, $80, $100!" No deal. The clerk said,

"I'd love to sell you a beer but the cases are all locked." I went to look, sure enough, they were all chained and padlocked closed. The chains were huge and the padlocks looked like something you'd see at Fort Knox.

I couldn't believe it. This was the USA. Texas of all places. Supposedly the hot seat of freedom and the land of the free. In Japan (a nation that was supposedly not nearly as free as the USA), I could buy a can of beer anytime I wanted to at anytime of the day or night (24/7) and walk down any public street drinking it anywhere I wanted. Not being able to buy a can of beer in the Land of the Free? In Texas of all places? "Alcohol sales illegal on a Sunday"!? What rubbish. I'd never heard of such a thing. Must be impossible. These people were joking.

I went back to my friend's apartment. By then another of his friend's had already shown up to meet me. My friend, Steve, laughed as he lit up another joint and said, "See? Told you that you couldn't buy any beer! Have a hit of one of these. This is good stuff!"

Still, I didn't want to get high on dope, I just wanted a drink to calm down and go to sleep. I asked Steve to call his friends and ask if they have anything to drink. 

"My friends don't drink alcohol, Mike. This is pretty much a dry county and my friends just smoke. Sure you don't want none of this?" He handed the joint to me.

"No. Really. Seriously. I don't do that anymore. It just makes me paranoid as hell and I'm already paranoid enough as it is."

Steve called around to his friends. Sure enough, no one had any drinks at home. One friend, though, suggested that he knew a "Speakeasy" where I might get a drink.

Speakeasy's were popular in the 1930's during Prohibition when the idiots in control of the government made drinking alcohol illegal across the United States. Underground bars, posing as tea and coffee houses, began popping up everywhere where people could get in, knowing a secret password, and have a drink. Here it was 2005 America and they still had them in Texas operating on Sundays. Steve's friend tried to get me into one. 

After several tries, he gave up. No dice. The bosses of the Speakeasy's were very strict about who they served alcohol to. I understood. My friend told me that if they were caught serving alcohol on a Sunday, they would go to prison. They didn't served booze to anyone they didn't know for years personally. You never know when an FBI sting will be setup to bust one of these operations (a FBI sting that will have cost millions of dollars over a few years just to bust some old guy serving whiskey to ten people....Good deal for the taxpayers, eh?)

What a wonderful country!... I'm sure the Taliban would approve.

Unbelievable. Sunday in Austin Texas and there was no way one could buy even one can of beer. Like I said, compare that with unfree Tokyo Japan where one could buy a beer anytime of the day, 24 hours a day, and drink it anywhere they wanted too, even on a public street! So much for the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.

Finally, one more friend of Steve's came over to meet me. He was a fan of my scribblings too. He felt sorry for my not being able to get a drink. 

A typical Sunday's entertainment in 
"God's Country"

"God's country!" He laughed and cynically proclaimed as he poured out lines of cocaine onto the glass table top.

Steve kept smoking marijuana, and this new friend kept chopping up cocaine. They both kept offering me some and I kept declining.

"All I wanted was one little drink, yet I couldn't have it." I said as I lay down on the sofa. The friend snorted the cocaine and rubbed his nose. Through his gasps he looked at me and said, 

"Mike! This is a dry county in a Christian country in the Land of the Free. Why is it you have a problem with that? Why do you hate the baby Jesus!?" He laughed sarcastically at the absurdity of it all and handed the straw towards me. I refused. After a 24 hour flight, snorting cocaine was the last thing I needed.

On the left of me, here's a guy breaking the law by smoking marijuana. On the right of me, a guy breaking the law doing cocaine. Me, in the middle, I cannot even buy a glass of wine or a beer just because it is a Sunday? What is this? Enforced Christianity? Didn't Jesus drink wine?

In the country that is supposed to be the Land of the Free, I can't even buy a can of beer on a Sunday? And this is the nation that is supposed to bring freedom and build democracy to people's in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East?

Lord, help us. And please give me a drink.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

What Happens When Grandmother Has a Stroke...

(This is a difficult post to write. If my immediate family sees this, they might get angry... But please read until the end... Even in this mis-fortune our loved one brings us good things...)

My mother-in-law had a stroke. Her condition is rapidly declining... She hasn't long on this earth. I thank God she isn't in pain.

I will miss her. She was always kind and good to me and a very fair person. If there is a heaven, I know she is going there.

The immediate family shudders under the stress. They become irritated at how each other handles grief... What should they do when the matriarch is dying? What will they do when the glue, the love, that held the family together for so many decades disappears?

I try to help anyway I can... But there's not much I can do but listen and try to make things a bit more convenient...

Friends send condolences...

I remind everyone and myself of an old story: 

"An ancient Zen Buddhist story goes like this: 

A very wealthy family in China bought a large farm and built a beautiful home, a 'palace' upon it. 

They wished for good luck, health, and fortune, so they decided to ask a famous Zen priest to write a scroll for them to hang in their den. After meeting the entire family and discussing the scroll, the priest accepted the job and went back to his shrine to pray for enlightenment. 

After a few days, the priest returned with the finished scroll and the entire family gathered around in great anticipation to see the words of good luck and fortune that the priest had written for them. 

The priest said a short prayer for all and then proudly opened the scroll and hung it on the wall. 

The scroll said: 

"Grandfather dies. Father dies. Son dies. Grandson dies." 

The entire family was furious at the priest. The elders were shocked and enraged! The younger ones were at the brink of violence. 

They all shouted and demanded that the priest go back to the shrine and rewrite the scroll for them. 

Rolling up the scroll, the priest sighed and said: 

"I will rewrite the order of names on the scroll in anyway you wish. But I think there can be no other sequence. If all die in this order, I think that is true prosperity."

・ ・ ・ ・ ・

My mother-in-law had a stroke. Her condition is rapidly declining... She hasn't long on this earth.

I believe that, age-wise, I am next in line... 

As it should be....

The family grieves and supports anyway they can... They are spending important time together. When I shot this photo, my daughter asked why I did that. I replied, "In a way, I envy you all. You get to spend this time together and hold her hand and say the things you want and need to say. My mother died suddenly and painfully in a freak car accident, I wasn't able to be with her in her last hours. So, like I said, in a way, I envy you all. Everything happens for a reason. Good things can come from this too if you try to find them."

Monday, January 13, 2014

Results of Geiger Counter Use in Tokyo

I finally got my Geiger counter! It arrived in the mail three days ago. I've been running around all over Tokyo with it, wherever I go, looking for hidden, deadly, mutating radiation. 

Ai-yai-yai-yai.... So far, no luck.

I've been all over Setagaya-ku, Shibuya, Harajuku and Chiyoda-ku... (sung to the melody of Frank Sinatra's "Down South of the Border (Down Mexico Way))" Hamamatsu-cho and down Shinagawa way! 

No sign of deadly radiation.

The readings have all been between 0.07 mSV/hr to 0.13 mSV/hr. A flight on a commercial jet airplane from Tokyo to New York will expose you to about 190 mSV (about 18.0 mSV/hr) so you can see that the current levels are not be worried about. Unless, of course, you are the worrying sort.

0.10... No problemo

You can read more techy stuff about radiation measurements hereIf you check the link at the top of the page of this blog, you can see what the daily levels of radiation are in Tokyo as read by a private scientific institution.

The level of radiation in Tokyo today, even after this March 11 disaster, is still lower than Rome, Italy or Hong Kong. This reports, from the height of the disaster no less, came from Bloomberg:

Hong Kong, Cornwall Radiation Beats Tokyo Even After Japan Nuclear Crisis

Typical amounts of radiation in Hong Kong exceed those in Tokyo even as workers struggle to contain a crippled nuclear plant in northern Japan, indicating concerns about spreading contamination may be overblown.

The radiation level in central Tokyo reached a high of 0.109 microsieverts per hour in Shinjuku Ward yesterday, data from the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Public Health show. That compares with 0.14 microsieverts in the Kowloon district of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Observatory said on its website. A person is exposed to 50 microsieverts from a typical x-ray.
Many countries have naturally occurring radiation levels that exceed Tokyo’s, said Bob Bury, former clinical lead for the U.K.’s Royal College of Radiologists. A 30-fold surge in such contamination in Tokyo prompted thousands of expatriates to leave Japan after the March 11 tsunami knocked out power at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant, triggering the crisis. Radiation in Tokyo is barely above levels in London and New York even now, analysts said.
“The situation in Japan looks set to follow the pattern of Chernobyl, where fear of radiation did far more damage than the radiation itself,” Bury said in an e-mail referring to the 1986 accident in the former Soviet Union, the world’s worst nuclear disaster. “Whatever the radiation in Tokyo at the moment, you can be fairly sure it is lower than natural background levels in many parts of the world.”

Here you can see daily radiation levels in Hong Kong that are on par or higher than Tokyo.

I laughed when I read the above because many corporations and foreigners in Japan pulled up their stakes and moved to China after the disaster because of fears of radiation. Just goes to show how poorly people use critical reading skills (or lack thereof) along with analytical thinking abilities (or lack thereof).

It has been well known for decades that many Chinese cities and townships have extremely high background radiation levels compared with most of the world and even the Chinese government has recognized the problem for decades. And still many foreigners left Japan to go to China because of radiation fears? Excellent risk management and risk assessment abilities of the western management of those companies.

I'm sure they will do well in China!
But this post is not about China, it is about radiation in Tokyo. 

Many people say that we cannot believe what the government says about radiation. Even though I link to private scientific institutions, some naysayers still don't believe that. OK. I bought a Geiger counter. I've checked for myself. I've even hoped to find some bizarre glowing green globules of irradiated gook. I've looked everywhere.

Nope can't find them. At least not here in Tokyo.

There are even some pundits and scientists who go on the mass media and say idiotic things like, "There are no safe levels of radiation! Period!"

Well, believe what you want. If what these scientists and other fools say is true, then we all  better stay indoors and hide under our blankets for the rest of our lives. Why? Don't look now, but there's a giant ball of fire in the sky that shoots massive amounts of evil radiation at us EVERY SINGLE DAY...

Trust that if you were so daft as to stand directly out in the blistering sun everyday, with no protection, it most assuredly would be damaging to your health. 

As far as I'm concerned, I've got my Geiger counter and I can't find anything at all to worry about in Tokyo... On the other hand, when I show it to people at work, the cute girls all want to see it and play with it when I show them the device. So it is good for something.

I feel like I wasted a bunch of money on an expensive device as I cannot find any deadly radiation.... I'm married so it's too late, but I can see a good use for a Geiger counter in Tokyo... 

Having a Geiger counter in Tokyo, from my research, shows no radiation levels in Tokyo to be concerned about, but results show that having one sure seems like a great way to pick up on girls!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Eat Whale, It's Delicious!

I received a mail from my friend Andrew who lives in cold Northern Japan. Andrew is also a columnist for Lew Rockwell so we are sort of "Brothers in Arms." We are always on "the same page" so to speak (though, often on different paragraphs!)

Here is Andrew's latest on Lew Rockwell (LRC): Yasukuni Shrine Whines Justified? (

Andrew sometimes sends me very interesting insights and comments. Here is his latest email:

Hey Mike san,

Here's a fun little story you might want to post on your blog, I don't think its the kind of thing LRC would publish:

My family was in Yamagata City this past weekend.  If you know Yamagata City, you would know its a nice city in the central valley of northern Japan, at the base of some large mountains.  I wouldn't want to disparage Yamagata City, but it's fair to say that its seen better days and isn't one of Japan's most economically dynamic cities.

Even so, near the main train station they have a couple of nice department stores.  One of those stores has a basement area where you can buy a wide assortment of the most delicious foods imaginable.  Literally, I walk around the vast expanse of food stalls drooling all over myself.  After I stop leering at the gorgeous Japanese girls, I look at the food and continue drooling.  Its that good, just looking at the cookies, and cakes, and bread, and snacks, and fried foods, and meat dishes, and sushi, and salads, its endless!

In America, I have never seen such a delicious choice of food to go all in one place,all in a convenient and attractive setting.  In large cities like Tokyo, these basement food markets in department stores are taken for granted.  Even in the smaller cities, you can easily find a department store with this set up.

When at the market in the store in Yamagata City, we bought fresh, raw, minke whale meat.   The minke whale is not endangered and our fine Japanese whalers, engaging in research of course  (nudge nudge wink wink say no more), catch a good number of these delicious cetaceans.  The meat, eaten raw and with a bit of chopped ginger is fresh, and tender, and nutty tasting like the best cut of beef you ever had.

Sorry to all you Americans who live in "the freest country in the history of the world" because it is illegal to buy whale meat in America under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.  Those Green Peace control freaks who love whales and have their own TV show simply HATE Japanese whalers.  They spend millions racing around the world to assualt Japanese whalers, but did they protest at all when Obama and his gang annihilated a group of Afghans on their way to a wedding a few weeks ago?  Some priorities.

Eat whale, it's delicious!

I responded, "Thanks Andrew. But! But! What about Flipper?" (by the way, I have eaten whale! It is delicious!)

Remember, whales are mammals... Some slices of the 
whale bacon even looks like pork bacon 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Japanese Youth of Today Don't Seem to Hate Koreans or Chinese. What's the Problem?

Concerning my most recent article entitled "Young People Don't Care - And That's a Good Thing" ( about how today's Japanese, Korean and Chinese youth seem to not hate each other like past generations did... That they don't care about nationalism like their predecessors...

I received several mails from people (older generations) who seem to misunderstand what I wrote. Perhaps I did write it poorly (I do think or people want to read into it what they want).

I never said the Japanese, Korean or Chinese kids didn't study history - International test results show they certainly do MUCH better scholastically than America kids do (but who couldn't study more?) 

My entire point was that today's Japanese youth (and Chinese and Korean youth) don't hate each other like past generations did. When viewing each other, they don't care about what happened in their grandparents generation. 

That they don't hate each other like the generations of the past did should pretty much speak for itself, no? Prejudice is a learned behavior, isn't it? These Japanese, Korean and Chinese kids don't hate each other like they did a generation ago... Or all the generations that came before that... 

Why do people have a problem with this? 

Isn't this good news?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Guns Are Not Illegal in Japan

Was out walking around the countryside today, near some farms about 1.5 hours from Tokyo when I stumbled upon this sign by the road...

You often hear from pro-gun control advocates that Japan does not have a gun problem like the United States because guns are illegal in Japan. That is patently false.

I think this picture speaks a lot more than a thousands words...

I also would like to note how the sign includes English for foreign hunters in the area. How polite!

Want to know just how really absurd it is to compare the USA with Japan? Read this for a real eye-opener: 

Gun Control and Japan - Mike in Tokyo Rogers on the truth. If that link doesn't work, copy and paste this:

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