03/31/2008

Not quite the USA, not quite Japan...It's Saipan!

Saipan 046.jpg

Sorry Kyoto Lovers but I blew out of town for a brief Holiday and jumped into the Specific Ocean right around here!

Just a short 3 hour hop and Saipan awaits you.

If you're looking for some complete dichotomy then this tiny tropical island is the place.

Absolutely breathtaking Natural beauty next door to Ghetto Fabulous housing complete with brokedown rusted junkers slowly dying in every driveway.

Fantastical luxurious Resort Hotels across the street from mean little concrete pillbox poker parlors, pawn shops and (wink, wink) massage emporiuoms.

Perfectly servicable Japanese matched with Native English spoken by every cabbie, bus driver or service personel eagerly scrambling to make a US Buck.

Incredibly awesome Ocean- warm, inviting with a vast array of marine life- and a truly heartwarming sky- day and lovely lovely night.

A breeze Flying In...
A nightmare Flying Out (We Americans are large and in charge so they make you wait in crazy lines then jump through hoops before you get on the plane).

Rich Man/Poor Man everybody eats the same grub!

So let's say a heartfelt Goodbye to Saipan as the Sun slowly sets in the West.Saipan 040.jpg


Back to Life...
Back to Reality!

Bring on the Hanami Parties!


posted by Billy at 12:27 | Kyoto (Japan)

03/23/2008

Showdown THROWDOWN!

The weather was lovely and mild, the crowd in Osaka was packed to the rafters and wild and, as predicted by yours truly, both Yokozuna were ready to rumble on this final Sunday in March!

This one was for all the marbles.

But all three final tussles were worth the weight, and I do mean weight, before the top battle rocked the house.

In order

The Gai-jin Kokkai went the somewhat less than honorable, but certainly clever, route and secured victory by neatly sidestepping the game veteran Kaio who ended up with a faceful of dirt to go along with his evident dignity.

The Great Japanese Hope Kotomitsuki (who has had another somewhat dissappointing Basho) secured his rank with an efficient dispatch of the tsuppari King (and reformed Thug now turned character) Chiyotaikai. Unfortunately for the veteran Koto appears to have Chiyo's number.

And then the crowd surged with delighted energy as the two Yokozuna entered the sacred ring.....

Both men looked poised, determined and very, very ready to get it ON. The Staredown was a draw moments before the Tachiai (inital contact) went off like a short fuse bomb.
The Yokozuna each exploded out of the blocks and slammed into each other with all the menace and intention of a nasty hurricane. The younger, stronger Hakuho instantly pressed his advantage and pushed Asashoryu to the bales, the house shook with anticipation of a Good Guy win and then.....

The Veteran Bad Guy Asa cleanly flipped his younger equal over the fence and OUT!

Yes, the Darkside won and, at least on this Sunday, the only thing Youth was served was a solid can of Whoop Ass!

Put on your Black Hats kids 'cuz, for now, the Bad Guys rule!

Do I seem a little too happy? Damn right!

My J-friends can certainly say what they want about Asa but the Yokozuna has been on a mission in this Basho and he was not to be denied by the young, stoic and certainly honorable Hakuho or anyone else. Added to that, despite (or perhaps because of) his reputation Asa puts asses in the seats!
But fear not Haters, Hakuho will certainly be back in the Summer with Payback on his mind.

So until next time,
There's a New/Old Sheriff in Town and his name is Asashoryu!
asashoryu5.jpg
posted by Billy at 18:19 | Kyoto (Japan)

03/12/2008

Uh Ohh...SUMOOOOO!



363px-Hakuho_May07.jpg
Asa.bmp

Yes my Kyoto friends, Spring is here and that means it's time for Sumo!
The Basho started in Osaka on Sunday and as of today this is shaping up to be a definate showdown/grudge match between the 2 Yokozuna-

The roundly despised (by most Japanese anyway), recently exiled, brutal, controversial and charismatic Asashoryu

and

The almost universally loved (by most Japanese anyway), widely respected, proud, powerful and young Hakuho.

A quick primer for the Sumo challenged-
The 15 Day Tournament is fought every consecutive Afternoon with the Winner getting the most victories.
Last time out (Jan.) it went down to the final day with both Yokozuna (Grand Champion) battling mano a mano in a thrilling penultimate Match.
Youth was served and the Good Guy won as Hakuho defeated the Darkside and order was restored to the World of Sumo.
This time we're currently in Day 3 and both Yokozuna are thus far undefeated. Hakuho is looking strong, solid, steady and ready.
Asashoryu is looking mean, nasty, hungry and out for revenge.
If it gets to the final days with these two squaring off against each other you can safely bet that the vast majority of J-telivisions (and mine certainly) will be tuning in for the Throwdown.

It's like Ali vs. Frazier, Baby!

Winner take All!

On TV!

Completely Free!

You gotta love this place.
posted by Billy at 16:21 | Kyoto (Japan)

03/02/2008

Spring.....Sprung!

springsprung 001.jpg

The Kyoto Faithful may think that I'm playing a meteorological game of Russian Roulette but I'm gonna Spin to Win Boys and Girls!

Yes, Spring in Kyoto has begun (yea I said it) on this lovely, lazy and laidback Sunday-

Children are frolicking on the banks of the Kamo,

Parents are kicking back as they gaze at their progeny with relaxed satisfaction,

Young couples are holding hands and doubtless dreaming of their very near and very far future,

Old Folks are revving up their rusty engines and taking 'em out for an easy spin,

Dogs are romping joyfully through the wide open spaces,

Nobody wants to go home early and the only scowl, smirk or frown I've seen all day was in the mirror.

So close that computer
Put down that phone
Unplug your headphones

AND COME OUT AND PLAY!
posted by Billy at 16:34 | Kyoto (Japan)

02/19/2008

The Bike Bandits are Here!

bikebanditsfirstsnow 019.jpg

One of the least pleasant facts of my, your or our Kyoto existence is the shadowy and disconcertingly random presence of the municipially approved Bicycle Thieves that cruise the streets like modern day pirates, drunk with power, heedless of any rights and absolutely disdainful of any and all human needs, excepting their own.
For some unknown reason, at least unknown to me, the Kyoto City Council has given free reign for these buccaneers to loot and pillage innocent bicycles seemingly at their whim.

On this day I observed as the Boys wantonly loaded about 6 bikes into the back of their truck in bold broad daylight.

bikebanditsfirstsnow 018.jpg

As I snapped these photos it appeared as if they took issue with my journalistic ethic and one of them got up the nerve to question my camerawork.
I snapped him the one-finger salute and my best impression of Japanese cursing.

It wasn't pretty but I kept my camera and they kept the bikes so I guess you could call it a draw.

Later I discovered that street repairs were taking place along this way and that was the ostensible reason for the hijacking.
Whatever!

The morale of the tale is this-

When in Kyoto be careful where you park your wheels...

and if you ain't careful then bring lots of cash.

posted by Billy at 11:52 | Kyoto (Japan)

02/12/2008

Salad...Pizza...Beer= Life/Good

yoshida 008.jpg

The Wife dragged me out of the house last night (it happened to be the occasion of my birth, some.....strike that.....many years ago) and treated me to a most proper meal.

The joint's name is Yoshida-Ryouriten and it's sort of a Kyoto Dining Secret.

http://www.kyoto-yoshidaya.jp/index.html

You would need a guide to find the place as they do no advertising and, in fact, don't even offer a sign to explain their whereabouts. (one block west of Teramachi, 'bout a 1/4 block south of Maurutamachi)

Why they let me in I'll never know but it may be due to the fact that we are tight with the Second-in-Command,
MaiMai-chan.
If you visit she will undoubtably and graciously greet you at the door.
You'll easily recognize her as the gal sporting the wicked tattoos and lecherous grin (my kind of Lady!) and your only task at that point will be to sit back and relax 'cuz she'll be doing all the driving!

yoshida 003.jpg

We split about 5 dishes (all of them excellent, fresh and delish) but my fave was the thin crust pizza (tomato/basil and then black olive/anchovie) alongside that cold NamaBeeru.

These pics cannot do the grub or the atmosphere justice as Satisfaction was most definately mine!
yoshida 005.jpg

The vibe is mellow and homey but I should mention that this is really a Date sort of place so.....
If you want to get cozy and just a little bit closer...
park it right here and I'm certain your evening will end just the way you want.
'Nuff said!
posted by Billy at 13:28 | Kyoto (Japan)

02/09/2008

The Gods.....They are Angry!

snowstorm 005.jpgI really do hate to repeat myself but today there is absolutely no doubt that the Winter Weather Gods are in a foul temper. I woke up, again, to the whitestuff floating down from the Heavens but due to the everyday regularity of this current trend I proceeded to blissfully ignore the conditions in the outside world, instead focusing my attention on my hot carpet, my blanket, my breakfast and my coffee,

Alas, this haven of comfort was doomed from its start.

Hours later I was forced to venture out(I had foolishly promised to meet a friend and I tend to keep those types of promises) into what was now an Official Snowstorm and the worst one I've yet seen in Kyoto.

snowstorm 011.jpg

As my bicycle skidded along like a drunken ice skater on an empty rink through the sloppy streets and even sloppier sidewalks I silently swore to myself that I'd break any future promises I am foolish enough to make.
Anyway...I made good on my commitment and then stopped in Gosho to snap a few Winter pics.
I didn't have to worry about any tourists getting in the way 'cuz Man.....
I had the place to myself!
snowstorm 009.jpg

I believe I was the only Damn Fool in the entire Park.

Well I made it back home without serious injury and almost no life threatening traffic incidents (LOOK OUT, LADY!)so all in all I'd have to consider the little Tour a modest (if unneccesary) success.

Back at Ya' Mr. Snow Miser!



and, as always, for more than you ever wanted to know...go to

http://everybodylikespizza.blogspot.com/
posted by Billy at 20:48 | Kyoto (Japan)

02/04/2008

Rainy Day Setsubun Blues



yoshidajinja fest 014.jpg

(Please sing to the tune of Dylans' "Subterrainian Homesick Blues")

oh..What the Hell! Here...I loaded it for you!



I'm in the kitchen
mixing up my medicine,

She's getting dressed fast
waiting for the time to pass,

Old Ladies in raingear
here, there, everywhere
marching through my neighborhood
toting bags of burning goods

Better bring lots of cash
'cuz it's gonna go fast

Yea, the food vendors landed
big bellies expanded
cash money's been handed
ain't no cameras candid

Better look out for the Obachans
or they will do some harm

pushing, leaning,
elbows leading
ain't got no feeling
on my heels healing

look out kids
you gonna get hit

Aw, upstairs, downstairs
cameras pointing everywheres

yoshidajinja fest 007.jpg

evil spirits in the air
waiting for the fire to flare

don't ask me if I really care
just don't stop to stare

better throw them red beans
don't wear bluejeans

keep an eye on the main scene
'member that's the main thing

(repeat as neccessary)


and my umbrella don't work
'cuz the vandals took the handle.
yoshidajinja fest 018.jpg



for more stuff go to

http://www.everybodylikespizza.blogspot.com/
posted by Billy at 13:08 | Kyoto (Japan)

01/29/2008

Let it Snow, etc. etc.

Gommenasai!
Sorry Folks!

It appears as if I have well and truly angered the Weather Gods with my previous post.

As of today I swear that it has snowed (sometimes heavily) every single day since I wrote. While it is certainly not unpleasant to wake to the sight of falling snowflakes, I am seriously beginning to wonder......

Last year it snowed in Kyoto exactly once for approximately 10 minutes (and if you weren't up at 3 in the morning smoking cigarettes and drinking like I was) so if you blinked you missed it. So this recent surge in Winter Wonderfulness is a bit unsettling.
A perhaps unique feature of the snowfall here in Kyoto is that the WhiteStuff absolutely refuses to accumulate. Yes it's been falling more or less like crazy but there is no evidence on the ground.
Most unusual?

J-friends have claimed Global Warming as the culprit and I am inclined to agree so...........

Get It While It's Hot!


posted by Billy at 16:20 | Kyoto (Japan)

01/22/2008

Let it Snow, etc.

bikebanditsfirstsnow 022.jpg

Last Mon. woke up to a lovely winter sight, billowy white snow flakes drifting down outside my window, settling softly home reminding me of innocent childhood dreams.

The best part?

I was safely, snugly and (most importantly) warmly tucked deep under the covers and so, from that toasty vantage point, could easily appreciate the wonder of winter and the beauty of a silent snowfall.

The white stuff came down frequently throughout the entire day and I was determined to get a good pic of this very first Kyoto Winter Wonderland. Mother Nature had other ideas. It was strange but everytime I stepped outside, camera in hand ready to create magic, the snow stopped abrubtly allowing me not a single shot.
By the 3rd time this happened I was prepared to admit defeat but on my way home at last the flakes flew, albeit weakly, and the results of my persistance are above.

Hey, you can't hit a home run everytime up to the plate!

Anyway- Winter is Officially Arrived!
posted by Billy at 13:26 | Kyoto (Japan)

01/11/2008

The 7 Different Types of Gai-jin Males Currently Living in J-Land

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1. The Fat Ass- This breed is shocking in its regularity and a truly repulsive sight in this nation of the slim and trim. To their bovine credit however they don’t seem the least bit aware or concerned about their vomit inducing presence as they obliviously waddle through the crowded streets making everything infinitely more crowded. Do Fat Asses own mirrors? I have to remember to ask the next one I spot grazing at McDonalds.

2. The Wimpish-Nerd-in-Heaven- This version may be best remembered from high school gym class where they were the softest target for abuse and often sported a wedgie and/or jockstrap as headgear. Having miraculously escaped the clutches of adolescence and compulsive masturbation they’ve somehow managed the fortitude to emigrate to a land where they are not only not a subject of feminine ridicule but, incredibly, are a coveted “catch” for many self respecting (and hot!) J-girls. To their rapturous gratitude they’ve discovered that almost any Gai-jin represents romance (wink, wink…nudge, nudge) with an exotic round eye to most J-girls who are apparently genetically incapable of distinguishing the lame from the cool in the foreign male. This usually stringy, muscle deficient geek after finally, finally, finally surrendering his loathsome virginity to a real live female can be easily spotted by the nervous (for he knows his charade may be discovered at any moment) look in his eye and the deliriously grateful smile on his pale face.

3. The Hippie- This walking cartoon can provide minutes of amusement and amazement as you watch and wonder why he didn’t get the memo that THE F*****G SIXTIES ENDED FOUR DECADES AGO! Young and old alike are often tie-dyed (seriously) and pony-tailed and these disgusting specimens just as often inflict their hairy legs and nasty feet on the world at large by sporting khaki jungle shorts and worn Birkenstocks. They usually, though not always, wear glasses and are most likely hygienically challenged. Docility may be their only attractive feature but after ingesting marijuana they will become especially and sickeningly loving. A shower, haircut and adult clothing would probably make a very positive impact but they seem to be unwilling or just stupidly unable to adjust their stoned outlook to the real world. Luckily for the rest of us, they are completely unable to breed with anything resembling an attractive female.

4. Baldy Sour- Hey horseshoe hair! Shave it off pal, you’re not fooling anyone. And I mean anyone.

5. The Combination- Yes, there exists a creature that improbably combines all the above characteristics into one giant ridiculous package. A profound disgrace to one and all.

6. The Shrimp- This type is so physically tiny that they appear to be almost deformed. Surprisingly they are uniformly proportioned and often attractive but tragically are approximately three sizes smaller than the average man. We’re talking Michael J. Fox’s little brother here. So miniscule is this breed that they have to remain in Japan for the remainder of their lives so that they can have a chance, a hope, a dream to feel at least somewhat normal in stature. In their undying favor they often have itty bitty teeny tiny (but sexy) girlfriends who fit them just fine.

7. The Drunken Misfit- This exile is welcomed nowhere (but here) and wanted by none. Aggressively lacking the basic human skill to fit himself properly into any decent society back home and too old, ornery or sociopathic to learn, he has to remain an Ex-Pat until he is driven from the Earth.
What can I say…..we all have our little problems, don’t we?


The 3 different types of Gai-jin Females in J-land

1. Lesbian- Always travel in pairs.

2. Prostitute- Nocturnal creature rarely seen during the day but can be easily spotted by their unnaturally bright blonde hair highlighted by dark streaks of black. Consistently and simultaneously sullen, greedy and frustrated, this predator should be avoided whenever possible or, in case of emergencies, approached with extreme caution.

3. The GF Parasite- Extremely rare breed that has somehow been convinced/hoodwinked into visiting this almost completely male-dominated enclave. Often attractive (by their native standards) but desperately clingy, this creature will not let her man out of sight due to her very genuine (and well founded) fear of losing him forever to hordes of the much, much more sexy (and much more slender) women currently surrounding him.

Trust me, that’s it.

posted by Billy at 18:35 | Kyoto (Japan)

01/06/2008

Top Ten New Years Resolutions for Gai-jin in Japan

NY reso.jpg


10). The next time I’m purchasing a pack of chewing gum at the Konbini and the clerk even reaches for a plastic bag I will bark in a loud and menacing voice, “Touch that bag and I’ll leap this counter, rip your arm off then shove it down your throat you robotic eco-rapist. And, from this moment forward, if any customer even dares to ask for a plastic bag for anything less than 3 six packs of beer you are now officially ordered, authorized and deputized to slap their lazy ass upside the head before hurling their items onto the sidewalk.”
Of course you’ll bark this in what passes for Nihongo and of course the clerk will fail to understand your gibberish so repeat as necessary.

9). If any Gai-jin, anywhere, at anytime, expresses any wistful “love” of J-Culture or history in my presence I shall, and must, beat that liar into the ground, then dance over his groaning fat body shouting, “GO SELL THAT TO THE TOURISTS, BUFORD, ‘CUZ WE AIN’T BUYING ANY BULLS**T THIS YEAR!”

8). I will refrain from all photographic indulgences up to and including- posing for group photos anywhere (whether smiling or not), snapping group photos (smiling or not), taking pics of anything even vaguely touristy or anything not directly related to some reliable source of income as well as making or allowing anyone to make the “peace” symbol.
The single photographic exception- UPSKIRTS!

7). When encountering other unknown Gai-jin on the street I will make friendly eye contact, smile, then offer a kind, “How’s it hanging?” to my fellow wanderer.
I will not ignore or pretend not to notice him/her nor engage in any silent disparaging thoughts about their age, weight, looks, sexual orientation or country of origin under pain of death.

6). I will happily pay 1800 yen a piece for movie tickets for my date and myself then contentedly sit in our assigned seats to enjoy the latest Hollywood vomit for 2 hours in blessed silence, never for one moment thinking of all the beer I could’ve purchased for the same amount of money.

5). I will try not to laugh like a maniac whenever I see those manga-coiffed, bleach blonde, pencil-necked, ultra-effeminate looking Host Boys sauntering down the street in their cheap suits and Bozo the Clown shoes as they smoke endless cigarettes while looking about as tough as a 2 day old breadstick.

4). I will try not to cry like a baby whenever I think of the small fortunes those twerpy nerds are pulling down night after night for doing little more than getting drunk and singing badly in front of desperately lonely but infinitely generous J-Ladies with deep DEEP purses.

3). Go see a really kick ass Japanese Rock Band live at a club and…. Whoa shit…..hee hee……………hoooo…….AHA….HAHAHAHAHOHOHAHAHAHA…….OOOOOOH…..DAMN! OH MAN THAT HURTS……HEE HEE heeeeeeeee……Woooooooooo! OK, Ok, let’s move on.

2). Ride the train at least once without looking up a girls miniskirt or down her low-cut blouse. Well you can try, can’t you???

1). ALL NATTO. ALL THE TIME!
posted by Billy at 16:20 | Kyoto (Japan)

01/03/2008

THE 2007 KYOTO OFFICE KARAOKE RATINGS ARE IN!

DJ ozma.jpg
Yes, fans…that magical day has arrived. New Years came and went, the Office Bonnenkai achieved proper lift-off, much beer and shochu was drunk (and I mean drunk) and many, many cigarettes inhaled. Oh…and there was even some food somewhere along the way but let’s stick to the important business.

KARAOKE HAS LANDED!

If you intend to live and breathe in J-land (and I hope you do ‘cuz there’s plenty of room) then you must understand that Karaoke is inevitable. It is a fact of J-life and a damn fun one at that! So, yes….. The Office Party gave birth to the Karaoke Party afterwards and the votes have now been officially counted and thus, without further ado, we give you the Year ’07’s roundup of the performances. (1 to 5 stars, 5 being the best)

Ataka-san- 3 and 1/2 stars
Our Fearless Leader came out of the blocks smooth, cool and easy as is his way with just about everything. His song selection perfectly suited his vocals as he milked his number like he was getting paid overtime and knocked it out with all the confidence of a big cat staring at a little mouse. Good Show.

Isobe-san- 2 and 1/2 stars
As the Rookie of the crew not much was expected from the New Guy and, to his credit, I-man got through his bit unharmed. The song selection was uninspired, the vocals didn’t make anyone forget Sinatra and his performance, while earnest, was on the mild, not wild, side. But, all in all, we’ll call it a successful swinging bunt. You’re On, I-san!

Kumi-chan- 4 stars
For the lone estrogen supply in a room packed with testosterone the heat was most certainly cranked up as we salivated while waiting for her to come across with the goods and MAN……..did she ever!
Song selection?
Perfection!
K-chan chose a soft lovely tune which she blew through the room like a cool breeze on a hot summer day making sure that everyone was glad, and then some, that she was in attendance. The vocals were a sweet lullaby of feminine grace and beauty on an otherwise roughneck night and her lovely sound is still cracking my heart today. And for our male readers…..she’s awfully easy on the eyes too.

David-san- 3 stars
As the first gai-jin up to the plate the pressure was definitely on. D-man proceeded to belt out his number with passion and not a little bit of old fashioned moxie. His song selection may have been the unique highlight of the evening. He chose a tune (the banquet?) which I have literally never heard before in my life but that didn’t stop me at all from enjoying it. While the tune and D’s vocals were slightly loopy for stretches his infectious energy effortlessly floated the entire number, blissfully capturing the spirit of the night’s enterprise.

Kimura-san- 1 star
Ladies…..I’ll just say this. If you are ever in Kyoto you may want to locate our office to get a good eyeful of the K-stud. A rangy 6 footer with the build of a solid light heavyweight, K-san would be intimidating were it not for his gracious good manners and happy-go-lucky charm. Coupled with a killer smile and the uncanny ability to master almost any endeavor (computer whiz, tennis ace, pool shark, to name a few) he almost certainly could make a fortune in the Movies if he ever leaves us.
And so it is with great good pleasure that I can announce I have at last discovered something K-man is NOT good at!
Song selection? THE HORROR! The man chose a sticky sweet cotton candy bit that must be the favorite of tween age girls hoping for their first kiss everywhere and then commenced to wobble through it like a one legged man in an ass kicking contest. Painful! Almost anything could’ve helped his performance but, unfortunately, nothing did. Kimura-san! GAMBATTE YO!

Jesse-san- ZERO STARS
BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Incomplete! F! The J-man hit the door and pulled his cord without grabbing the mike and in so doing managed to escape evaluation. A very poor show. But the good news is that I’m fairly certain that, according to J-land tradition, this means that Jesse-san is obliged to perform the first number next year and, further, that we get to choose the song!
Sorry Bro’ but right now I’m leaning towards “Like a Virgin”.

Kazuo-san- 5 STARS
At about 5’9” and 185 lbs. and with a pleasurably gentle demeanor Kaz-san can accurately be described as a Teddy Bear of a man and so it is, was and will remain a profound shock to see him unmask and reveal the inner Hip-Hop Madman that exists inside his calm façade.
K-man led off the evening by donning a DJ Ozma wig (and if you don’t know DJ Ozma then youtube him and find out), snatching the mic with a vengeance, leaping up on our table and pumping out the jams with the ferocity and energy of a 10 year old delinquent with a big bag of candy. Rump shaking, earth quaking, love making and too much just wasn’t enough! Now that’s how you start a party! If I only had a video cam…
It’s faint praise but Kaz-san is without a doubt our 2007 Karaoke MVP!
Long may he reign.

My performance? I’ll say this much.
If we are ever drinking together and there is a microphone within arms reach then HEED MY WORDS-

RUN! AS FAST AS YOU CAN! RUN!

To my credit I did not shatter any glass, I did not hear any dogs howling, I was not asked to leave, no one threw anything at me during or after my song and the neighbors (as far as I know) did not complain.
So all in all it was one of my better nights.
タグ:New Years Party
posted by Billy at 15:52 | Kyoto (Japan)

12/21/2007

And you thought I was kidding.....

The article below was cut and pasted from todays edition of the Daily Yomiuri,(seriously), the largest English Language Newspaper in this Land.


SDF ready for Godzilla, but not for aliens
The Yomiuri Shimbun

Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba on Thursday admitted to reporters that he was unsure about how the Self-Defense Forces should respond to an attack by alien spaceships, adding his two yen's worth to the debate over UFOs within the government.

The government, responding to an opposition lawmaker's question, has given its official view that it has not confirmed whether UFOs are piloted by aliens. While Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura later indicated that he believes UFOs are of extraterrestrial origin, Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda said the same day he has yet to see one.

"If Godzilla came to the country, we could dispatch the SDF on a disaster relief mission," Ishiba said at a press conference after the Cabinet meeting Thursday. "But if UFOs fly here, it would be difficult to regard them as violating our airspace as they can't be categorized as coming from a foreign country."

"If it happens, we should take defensive measures," he added, warming to his theme. "But if UFO occupants tell us [earthlings] we should try to get along with one other, we wouldn't be able to treat it as an armed attack."

(Dec. 21, 2007)

And they say Japanese pols don't have a sense of humor.
Does it get any better, you ask? HELL YES!

I mean, at least I offered photographic evidence.

タグ:news reports
posted by Billy at 17:54 | Kyoto (Japan)

12/17/2007

Jumping to Lightspeed

illuminations 014.jpg

Yes, it is that time of the year. The end-of-the-year Holidays and all their consequent festivities are coming on like Mike Tyson in a bargain basement Strip Club with all of us being the hard working entertainment just trying to make it through the long night in one, more or less, unmolested piece.
Add to the unholy mix the ever colder weather, the flu/cold that everyone is passing around like green money, numerous and sundry Bonnenkai (J-land end of year drinking parties…wait…I should amend that… HEAVY drinking parties which, while not strictly mandatory, can be a serious professional obligation), shopping until you’re dropping, last minute travel planning, viselike family obligations and the odd but constant pressure to squeeze every bit of everything imaginable into these last hectic weeks and we have a recipe for holiday exhaustion and almost certain dissatisfaction with the general State of the World.
Of course our most human compulsion is to run harder and faster in a very mad dash to keep up with the frenzied pack lest we fall even a tiny step behind at this critical juncture.

My twin cents?

Ever watch the World Championship Surfing on the North Shore of Hawaii? The best surfers on the planet gather to work the waves and win the money. Their basic method? They paddle out into the vast beautiful blue and wait…………and wait…………then wait. These godlike athletes just chill and graciously let that perfect set come to them, they don’t do any chasing or frantic rushing around because they know that the waves are near to endless and absolutely coming their way and even if they aren’t, well, there’s always tomorrow and plenty of tomorrows.

I guess I find this instructive.

So I suppose I’m saying that if you’re in a serious relationship (or even a not so serious one), then relax and enjoy your partner and your sweet time together. If you’re not then enjoy your freedom and a sexy (I hope) world chock full of tasty choices.

If you have your family around you, please take your time and bask in the glow of a genuine love that is surely yours, whether you like it or not. If your family is far away or gone, then enjoy the generous and inviting humanity that most certainly surrounds you if we can only open our eyes, arms and heart.

I guess I’m saying that 2008 is our next wave and it’s rolling in smooth, cool and beautiful with plenty of room for everybody to get on, flow easy and get your rocks off until we hit the beach.

So let’s all be gracefully poised, ready and grateful for our chances….. And, hey, while we at it….. ain’t it a lovely day?

Damn….all this sugar I’m spreading around is giving me a toothache so let’s leave it at this-

Happy Jesus Day and Merry F*****G New Year!

タグ:holidays
posted by Billy at 11:39 | Kyoto (Japan)

12/09/2007

Godzilla vs. Santa Claus- Update:

godzilla tori.jpg
At the time of this most current posting it is now theorized that the Giant Reptiles’ narrow ear canals may be particularly susceptible to the cloying, saccharine, sonic qualities and/or randomly annoying decibel levels of the non-stop Xmas carols that so often accompany the presence of Jolly Old Saint Nick throughout this great City. Leading Reptoligist from Kyoto U., Professor Tamanaka Ryoma stated to this reporter,

“Reptiles, specifically giant fire breathing ones, often have genetic and physiological weaknesses in the aural canal leading to a painful inner ear condition that is exacerbated by the repetitive, monotonous, sappy and unnecessarily continuous playing of these tunes in public which often cause acute pain and tremendous disturbance to their otherwise docile temperaments, creating a convulsive reaction that forces these creatures to lash out at the offending stimuli.”
The Professor continued,
“Because of his tremendous size Godzilla may be particularly vulnerable to this condition and, hey,” he added ruefully, “who the hell can blame him…? I mean, Damn… everywhere I freakin’ go its Rudolph the red nosed Muthaf*****g reindeer until I almost wanna snap! YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN! SILENT NIGHT MY ASS! THIS IS JAPAN, NOT F*****G OHIO! WHEN IS THIS MERRY BULLSHIT GONNA END? WHAT THE-“
Unfortunately our interview terminated before the Professor was able to complete his thought but the lucidity of his science clearly cannot be questioned.
godzilla flee.jpg(Thousands flee the Monsters onslaught)

In a swift response to the crisis the Japanese government has officially increased the number of daily meetings from 2 to 5 in all government offices and a comprehensive 17 point plan designed to expand the hours of all low level Civic employees from 80 to 120 hours per week has been drawn up and is heading to a select Committee. Private Business has also chipped in by tripling the hours of all Salarymen.
As a strong show of support for their staunch allies, the US Government has vowed to

“Focus our military strength and all its resources to help our Japanese neighbors fight and win The War on Terrorism.” according to President Bush in a statement released from the White House.
When brought to speed on the specific, reptilian nature of the crisis, however, he quickly and firmly responded,

“Godzilla? Huh??? Didn’t we……..like…… kick his ass back in ’45 or something? I’m pretty sure I read that somewhere at Yale?”

In a lightening Gallup poll taken just this morning, 11% of US citizens strongly agreed with the Presidents response while only 9% disagreed. 80% had no opinion.

When asked for his response in light of the President Bushs’ statement, British PM Gordon Brown sharply retorted, “What he said!”

After ascertaining the identity of the Canadian PM Stephen Harper and pleading for his comments, Mr. Harper allowed,
“I am in full support of our Neighbors’ actions….especially in light of the fact that no Canadians will actually have to do anything as regards this effort.”

Kyoto citizens have also rallied in the collective effort to fight the scourge by shopping for designer clothes and cosmetics (both men and women) ever more vigorously, dining out at cafes diligently, squeezing every last dime out of tourists pockets energetically while, simultaneously, the number of hair salon appointments (both men and women) has doubled in recent weeks and, amazingly, the almost non-stop fiddling with personal cellphones has continued at a heroic rate. How long the citizens of the Ancient Capitol can continue to expend this Herculean amount of energy to save their city is anyone’s guess but this reporter is proud, indeed, to witness this wave of dedication to a City and a Nation.

For now night falls and the Monster sleeps while the JSDF and Kyoto Natives gird up for the shopping battles to come. When the sun rises tomorrow one can only hope that victory belongs to the brave. godzilla kamo.jpg

タグ:Xmas
posted by Billy at 14:29 | Kyoto (Japan)

12/06/2007

Godzilla vs. Santa Claus- The Kyoto Clash

godzilla kyoto tower.jpg
(Moments before the tragedy at Kyoto Tower)

KYOTO- An ominous shadow has fallen across Japan in this year 2007; following the fateful 2005 testing of a nuclear device in North Korea the perhaps inevitable has occurred. The radioactive nightmare and all around ass-kicking giant Reptile known popularly as “Godzilla” has recently resurfaced to wreak havoc and devastation on the pacifist populace of this Grand Nation. Even as I file this report JSDF troops are massing all around Kyoto in a valiant attempt to prevent any further destruction by the rampaging “Thunder Lizard”. Kyoto is under the most direct threat and this reporter eye-witnessed and photographed the carnage as the Monstrous Beast carved out his terrible trail of revenge (apparently aiming for the Ancient Capitol) and, despite our desperate hopes, the calamitous scourge finally arrived yesterday. daimonji godzilla.jpg
My account follows.
The consensus of the scientific community at this time appears to agree that the Radioactive Reptile has, for reasons unknown, chosen Kyoto as his target and has focused his attacks on any and all Civic, Public or Private displays of Happy Holiday Christmas Displays including, but not limited to- Xmas trees, tree lights, reindeer displays, tinsel and Xmas wreaths.
At first leading scientists believed these targets were based on some neural synaptic misfire in the reptilian brain of Godzilla caused by the intermittent flashing of popular Xmas light shows, sending the monster into some type of violent seizure that can only be alleviated by ripping the living shit out of these benignly annoying displays of Xmas cheer. But, in a recent development, Godzillas’ rage seems to have shifted to any overt depictions of that Jolly Fat Man of Xmas lore himself, Santa Claus.

godzilla xmastree.jpg
(His rampage begins in Kyoto Station)


Updates on the desperate situation to be posted as they occur.
タグ:Xmas
posted by Billy at 16:54 | Kyoto (Japan)

12/02/2007

SLAMBURGER!

CIMG0488.JPGOne of the finest reasons to live and breathe in J-land is the unique and endlessly satisfiying nature of Japanese cuisine.

And then every once in a while.........

A friend of mine (thank you Naruhito-san!) recently told me of a Brand New, Kyoto Only Shop called SmileBurger which he and his family frequents and raves about.

For those seeking a comfort food break SmileB is simply the best burger I've yet chomped here in J-land. Fat, juicy, fresh, delicious and, for my fellow countrymen, American Sized. And then some and more.
There are 3 Kyoto locations and so we stopped at the shop on Higashioji-dori, maybe a 7 minute walk due south of Yasaka Shrine between Shijo and Gojo.
Nothing fancy here, folks. Just a delightful Burger & Chips with a tangy pickle on the side. Simple and effective in its satisfying purpose.
The somewhat unique aspect to Smileburger is that they only serve 50 meals each day. After they sell out they close the doors so while they have regular hours (about 10 to about 8) please be advised that they may NOT abide strictly to same. They pride themselves on quality and freshness (and I can attest to the perfection of their buns) and apparently ignore any bottom lines that may get in the way of their goal.
While slightly expensive for a burger I just want to say this- We chowed down around 4 on a lovely Sat. and then walked home where I promptly fell into a sublime food coma slumber. I woke at 7 with no hunger pangs and did not require food for the rest of the evening.

THAT'S A BURGER!

So if you're knocking around these parts and want to get your FatBurger on.........
This am the place!
CIMG0491.JPG

タグ:hamburgers
posted by Billy at 15:33 | Kyoto (Japan)

11/29/2007

A not-so-strange but otherwise terrible tale (or that's one way to stop an express train)

Today I was waiting around the office for my student to arrive when the calm afternoon air was split into pieces by a fire truck siren. The truck parked directly in front of our window and it was followed by an army of police squad cars and at least 2 ambulances.

Curious and bored (in general I dislike to be kept waiting) I peeked out the window to the street below. There was a buzzing beehive of Fire/Police/EMT activity going on complete with the usual collection of rubbernecking gawkers standing around yet I detected not a single whiff of smoke or sight of flame.

Now this particular student is very punctual so I was rather suprised as the minutes rolled by- 5 mins. late, 10 mins, 15???-until I walked out to the street and put it all together.

Upon observation I quickly ascertained that the emergency, if it can be properly called that, was underground inside the Maurutamachi/Keihan Train Station. This would be exactly the same line that my now seriously tardy student would be taking. Yet there was no evidence of smoke or fire and indeed the Firemen at least seemed to be taking a somewhat leisurely approach to their duties while the EMT's, on the other hand, were bouncing around like pinballs.


Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm......

Train jumped the tracks? Not likely due to the lack of noise or
any evidence of serious destruction, I've actually examined a derailed train up close and believe me it is an awesomely fearsome sight.

Cult attack? Highly doubtful. No prescense of chemicals or victims of any kind.

But the train is no doubt held up........Got it!

Some happy citizen has chosen, once again, to punch his own ticket by kissing a speeding express engine right on the mouth.
I don't know why (and don't wanna know) but for some bizarre reason suicide by train is uncommonly popular here in J-land.
This method of punching one's own ticket seems to occur on a somewhat regular basis with the Shinkansen being a familiar target although almost any express seems to fil the bill for these happy campers.

Well I guess it's an idiot-proof way to end it all and, thanks to the uncanny punctuality of the Japanese train system, the only requirement you need to pull off this particular stunt is the price of a ticket and the ability to read a schedule. Then just close your eyes and say goodbye.

My student pulled in about 10 mins. later and confirmed my suspicion then we both had a big laugh.

Yea...Yea.. I know, did I say I was Ghandi or something?

Anyway I guess this officially confirms it.
The Holiday Season has definately begun!

タグ:trains
posted by Billy at 18:09 | Kyoto (Japan)

11/28/2007

I come in Peace.....

kurodani daylight 022.jpg

Lazy day off today so I strolled up the hill to one of my favorite Temples.

I'll tell you but sssshhhhhhhhhhhhh.....

It's a secret!

Kurodani is an out-of -the-way spot at the end of the road and it's filled with peace, tranquility and fresh vibes everywhere. I could go on and on about its many wonders but don't worry, I won't.

The coy pond, the intoxicating scent of the incense at the altar (only open during daytime hours but then completely free, and how often can we say that!), the triple stone staircases to the top of the world (which I occasionally run and even occasionally live to tell about), the happy kids from the neighboring school frolicking all through the grounds (and what a great place to play it must be- filled with hiding spots and secret paths everywhere), the carefully crafted topiary, the entrancing sound of the monks chanting and, not the least, my Buddha buddy sitting square, blissfully blessing all and even me.

And the grounds are open 24/7 and 365 Baby!

But if you come, please come correct.....

タグ:temple
posted by Billy at 18:48 | Kyoto (Japan)

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