Natsubate – Like Heatstroke…but more Vampiric.

Hey guys! Sorry for the lack of updates but as you well know, it’s in the middle of summer (for those of us in the northern hemisphere) and right now in Japan it’s always between 33 and 35 degrees celsius, even reaching 38 in Tokyo!

Now, I don’t know if you live in England, or have ever been in England during the summer, but I have to say- England feels like Antarctica compared to Japan at a cool 24-ish degree summer. This is my first time staying in Japan throughout the summer and it’s definitely taking it’s toll on me, both physically and mentally.

Because it’s so hot, it just makes you sweat and sweat and sweat, which is good when watching girls pat themselves cool, but if you’re like me with thin hair, then it just ends up making you look like a drowned rat within an hour or so. Not to mention that nasty feeling of having your clothes soaked and cling to you (again, good to see on girls, but not for me.)

It doesn’t get much cooler at night either which means I cannot SLEEP!

Practically in the nude, laying on a mat that is supposed to cool me down, with a fan blowing nearby, all the fan does is keep blowing hot hair on me, but it’s still better than not having it at all. So I often wake up in the middle of the night out of sheer heat, or from dehydration and downing a bottle of whatever is in the fridge (the Mrs. is wondering how the milk keeps running out so quickly).

So from lack of sleep, seemingly constant dehydration, being sweaty and lack of air conditioner (expensive to keep running) I honestly feel like sleeping in the freezer.

Japanese have a phrase for this called 「夏ばて」 (“Natsubate”) which generally means “Summer exhaustion”, but it’s not to be confused with things like “Sunstroke” or “Heatstroke” (That would be 「日射病」”Nisshabyou”).

Natsubate is a general phrase to describe the lethargy that comes during Summer, with the constantly high humidity and temperatures that seems to suck the life and energy out of you before you even realize it (You were wondering where the “vampiric” part came in, right?). That’s why it’s been so hard for me to scramble the energy to write anything recently! That and being incredibly busy as of late…

With Global Warming on the rise it’s making each year more unbearable than the last, I never thought I’d prefer to be in England than Japan but after a month of pure heat, you need a break! It doesn’t help that people are holding back on energy usage because of the Fukushima power plant incident, either, so not as many shops are using Air Conditioning (well, they are, but not as cool as it usually would be).

The blazing heat raining down everywhere, no shade in sight, it really does take it’s toll, which is why it’s no surprise that men’s sun umbrella sales have seen a sharp increase this year, three times higher than last!

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I’ll ever get to the point where I’ll be walking around with a sun umbrella. If it’s a choice between death and looking effeminite from the 1800’s, I’ll take death please.

Would kill for a slushie,
RyuuOnii

Studying Japanese? Get This!

Anyone studying the Japanese language is going to have a hard time finding the right word for that particular sentence you want to say. Beginners might want to say “I love chocolate” and instead of saying the common “Chokoreeto ga daisuki!” they’d say “Chokoreeto wo aishiteru!” instead which will leave the Japanese listener looking on wondering if you love it so much that you literally want to marry it. (I know there are some of you out there that would! But that’s beside the point).

You could buy an English>Japanese>English paperback dictionary, but take it from me that you’d spend so much time looking for the word you want to use, and reading how to use it that it’ll put a serious dent in the flow of conversation. (Not to mention that it’s a serious cockblocker for when you’re trying to pick up girls at a bar.)

When you’re in Japan, you can go and buy one of the MANY electric dictionaries that’re available that have so many words and phrases that I was actually surprised when one knew the definition of the word “Chav”. I mean seriously, what the hell?! These things are great, but the downside is that all of the explanations will be in Japanese and they’re really quite expensive

The other option, if you have a smartphone is to download an app.

Now this is what I do because if you speak a fair amount of Japanese and don’t want to actively let the people around you know that you don’t know what they’re talking about, you can just pull out your phone and pretend you’re playing tetris or something, whilst really quickly looking up that word that everyone seems to be laughing about.

Now, there are many dictionaries out their for studying Japanese. A popular one is simply named “Japanese” by Renzo inc. which is very useful because it has just about as many word entries in it’s database as the best electronic dictionary out their, it also has Japanese writing recognition as well so you can search for a Kanji just by drawing what it looks like- much easier than searching through all the various radicals in a huge list. It also shows you the stroke order too, which is handy for those learning how to write Japanese properly! The downside of it is that you have to pay for it too. Right now it’s up for $9.99 on the apple app store.

However my favourite one by far is called “Kotoba!” which is just as good and has a flourish of example sentences to read from. It’s also got sayings and proverbs, JLPT Test (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) questions and need-to-know Kanji as well as a really nice, clean interface. Best of all, it’s completely free!

But, don’t go searching for Kotoba! right now, because as of writing this, it’s not available anymore because of some licensing issues or something. So it’s taken down, but looking at the developer’s site and FaceBook page it looks like he’s going to be re-releasing it as “Imiwa” which means “[The] meaning is” around mid or late-august.

However, if you’re like me and you now own an Android phone, the search to find a good app begins all over again. But don’t worry, I have the answer for you! The app I use now is titled “Aedict” which is easily found. Once you have it, just allow it to download all the dictionaries and you’re ready to go! It doesn’t look as clean and clear as Kotoba!- Oops, I mean “Imiwa!”- but once you’ve gotten used to where everythin is, it’s just as good, if not better.

It has all the JLPT quizzes, a huge databased of words and phrases, example sentences, kanji radicals, all the different readings each kanji has as well as kanji writing recognition and stroke order! The only reason I still prefer Ko… Imiwa is because Aedict is a little too dark and seems a little cluttered sometimes. But it’s definitely a great app that you have to get!

Trying to find the right words,
RyuuOnii

Gaijin = Obnoxious, Photo-taking Louts Here to Steal Womenz

Whenever I think about stereotypes I think of the phrase “There’s no smoke without fire” meaning that there’re stereotypes for a reason and they’re not just made up to slur a particular group, race, nation, etc. Not entirely, at least.

For example, think of the word “Geek” and what’s the image that comes to mind?
A wimpy kid with glasses, possibly taped in the middle, pimples, etc.

If you think of the word “Otaku” you’d basically get the exact same image, except with a Naruto shirt and a deck of Pokemon cards. …Or Danny Choo.

Do I think this is how all Geeks and Otaku look and act like? Hell no! I could easily call myself a geek, or even otaku (not so much anymore) but I can’t remember a single time I looked anything like those stereotypical descriptions. Had pimples though, that’s about it.

But do I think that there are a people in this group that look like this and live up to the stereotypes? Definitely.
I remember when the Transformers 2 film came out and was getting a lot of heat for having two characters (Skids and Mudflaps) who were obvious stereotypes of black minorities in America. It was receiving comments along the lines of “To say that these two are the most astonishingly racist caricatures that I’ve ever seen in a mainstream motion picture would be an understatement” and if you take your kids to see it “you’ll be taking [them] to see a film with the lowest forms of humour, stereotypes and racism around.”

Now, do I think these two characters were caricatures of the racial stereotype of blacks? Definitely. Do I think they were racist? Not in the slightest. Especially not after you watch this; 

If you say that “All black/asian/white/[whatever] people are like this or that” then that’s racist and it’s ridiculous to say so. But just to portray a stereotypical character that more than likely actually exists is just that; portraying a character.

But I think I digressed here, let me continue…

With the propagandistic claims about foreigners by the Right in the UK and America I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t live up to those same claims by the Japanese equivalents.

I live in Japan now, permanently, and I don’t want any Japanese to look down on me the same way as those bigots do in England, in the States and probably everywhere else in the world. I don’t want Japanese to see me with a camera in hand taking pictures of anything and everything that sparks my curiosity. I just don’t want them to see that and think “Typical Tourist”.

I may be a foreigner, but I’m not a tourist and I’ll do anything within my ability to prevent from acting like one.

However.

Having said that, there is just so much beauty and interesting things in Japan that I can’t help myself but snap one or two when no-one’s looking, like a fat man on a diet sneaking a couple of M&Ms in his mouth, making a mental note to finish the rest later when no-one’s around.

In fact, I’ve downloaded an app on my phone that lets me take photos without that annoying shutter sound. Yes, I know it’s to stop guys from taking pictures of up girls skirts or whatever. Yes, I know that mostly perverts download this app. Yes, I am slightly perverted, but NO I am not using it for that purpose. Not always, anyway. Mainly just to take photos without getting a sudden rush of heat to my face every time I hear that damn shutter sound. I can’t help being embarrassed by it!

I’m subscribed to the feeds of a few others who live in Japan and I will frequently see them uploading some spectacularly amazing photos. Some people have blogs dedicated solely to the photos they take (and that is by no means a bad thing) such as Sendai Photo Blog and Shoot Tokyo. You should check out their blogs for some great pictures!

Another one I follow is a fairly prominent J-blogger on the net with his own page and also on YouTube, Hikosaemon.

After he made a tweet about taking a photo of this or that (I forget, exactly) I tweeted to him; “I have to ask, as another Gaijin in Japan, don’t you get embarrassed taking pictures in front of people? I get self-conscious”

This is exactly how I feel whenever I’m on the train. Which is always. It’s like they notice me and are always aware of whatever I’m doing.

After which we had a little back and forth. Another user by the name of Alice (@Vyxle) chimed in by saying that she thinks people that’re out in public are fair game so there shouldn’t be any guilt.

Not exactly what I was talking about, but figures in with it because I hate taking photos of people in Japan for fear of invading privacy.

At the end, Hikosaemon wrote a great speech-like piece through twit-longer which I must share some particular parts. It really is great advice;

What matters most is miuchi (身内) – your family and close friends. They will define you by who you are and not by your nationality, and if you strive to be Japanese, in my experience, along the way, they will treat you no different to anyone else in their family/circle. Next most important is your circle of acquaintances and co-workers. Again, I think it’s possible, if that is the road you want to take, to be defined among people you work alongside to not be perceived primarily as a foreigner.”

Great advice indeed, especially if you live in the city where it’d be impossible to convince everyone that you’re not just some foreigner touring through. However, I live in the countryside in a relatively small community and so I don’t want to be seen as a foreigner to them. In a sense, I’ve already made them all my acquaintances just by being their neighbour.

But that’s another thing I’ve noticed. Japanese, unless they’re really old, don’t place much in the whole “friendly neighbour” thing. I mean, they’ll be friendly, bow and say hello if they ever see each other, but that’s about it.

I live in a small apartment with my wife and when I first came to Japan I remember saying to her that I’d like to introduce myself to those on either side of us saying “Hi, we just moved in, Yoroshiku.” (“Yoroshiku” is a word that can’t really be translated into English. But it expresses a feeling of “Let’s get along with each other”). As soon as I said that though, she gave me an odd look and said “It’s fine not to, isn’t it?” (「別にいいでしょう?」- “Betsu ni ii deshou?”).

Now, at the time, I thought it was just her, but I’ve asked around, students and Japanese friends, if they greeted their neighbours when they moved in or if they got along with their neighbours and they all gave me the same answers “Not really” (「別に」- “Betsu ni”)

But back to Hikosaemon’s advice, to perhaps shed a little light;

“The group outside of that, everyone else moving around in the world that you don’t know or interact on a regular or meaningful way with- in Japan that group is called “Tanin” (他人- other people/Strangers)- and for all intents and purposes, all those people are gaijins to any given Japanese… that’s the thing; foreigners, like Japanese Tanin, are perceived one dimensionally when they are unknown to the person.”

A very interesting insight indeed and explains so much about how the Japanese generally interact with one-another. Why, for the most part, if Japanese don’t have their nose in their phone or a book, they usually close their eyes and block everything and everyone else out. If they’re alone, that is.

Hikosaemon explains that people expect foreigners to speak English [not German, Russian, French, etc.], that we only use knife and fork and that we will take copious amounts of photos and if we fulfil those expectations, they won’t care. They won’t think “Typical gaijin“, they just simply won’t care.

He says “Even if you sit someone down and set them straight that you, like many other gaijin, use chopsticks and speak Japanese, five minutes later you will be back in the same situation with someone else… So long as you’re not an obnoxious lout, I’ve learned that it’s a waste of energy fighting the extra leeway given to foreigners as strangers here. In fact embracing it to a degree, in the right way and right circumstances, actually makes life here a lot easier.”
(Click here to read the full thing)

So what I’ve taken away from this is that in the city, taking photos is nothing to be ashamed of because you’ll never meet any of those people again, but in the countryside there aren’t many people, so it should be easy to snap a few when no-one’s around anyway.

So have at it!

So it seems like in the end, the stereotype of the “Tourist gaijin” wins out again. Like I said, “No smoke without fire.”

Still though, I’ll feel embarrassed and shy but I’ll definitely be taking this advice to mind from now on. So slowly, but surely, I hope to be taking much more photos to share with you all!

After all, why should I be embarrassed about taking photos in public when the Japanese have no qualms with doing it themselves?

 

Definitely not [much of] a pervert,
RyuuOnii

Jiraiya! The Man, The Mystery, The Legend, The Truth!

(Firstly – This post is damn long so you only get one or two pictures. Thanks for your understanding but my hands are sore from researching and typing this stuff up for ya! Hahaha.)

Anyone that’s familiar with the Anime “Naruto” will undoubtedly know about Jiraiya. The big, bushy haired toad hermit who can’t deny himself a quick peak up a girl’s skirt or down their top, if ever the chance arose.

But, did you know that this character was based on an already existing Jiraiya? And that there’s been quite a lot of mythology behind him? No? Well, you’re in luck because ol’ uncle Ryuu is gonna lay things out for ya!

Jiraiya, the character was conceived in 1806 in the story “Jiraiya Setsuwa” (児雷世説話 – “The tale of Jiraiya”) written by Onitake Kanwatei which became popular and developed into a series of 43 books referred to as “Jiraiya Goketsu Monogatari” (児雷也豪傑物語 – “The stories of the great hero Jiraiya”) written by a great many authors over a period of 29 years. But those were just the original stories, his legend continues even through to this day!

Spelt with the kanji “児雷世”, Jiraiya which means something along the lines of “World’s Thunder-Child”, or popularly “Young Thunder” and if you’re wondering what that’s got to do with Ninja, Toads or anything like that, keep reading, it’ll all be explained in time.

Born into the powerful Ogata clan in Kyushu he was expected to accomplish a great many things in his family’s name. But when the family fell into ruin because of another clan led by a guy called Sarashina he moved to Echigo Province, modern-day Niigata Prefecture (around 300Km north of Tokyo) and joined a local band of robbers where he eventually rose to become their chief!

Now, at this point in time is where the original Jiraiya story kicks in.

There’s a big drama for one family where a young woman’s husband is thrown into a debtor’s prison because he couldn’t pay enough taxes so the girl goes into prostitution in order to bring home the bacon for her child. She leaves her kid home with the father-in-law while she goes out to work but things really get turned upside down when the father-in-law is jumped, robbed and killed by a guy called Gundayu who even tries to throw the child into a gorge!

Steps in Jiraiya who happened to be walking by at the time, jumps in and rescues the boy from certain death.

Several years later along his travels, Jiraiya comes across a huge toad that was being attacked by a huge-ass snake deep in the forests of Mount Myoko. Instead of running for dear life thinking “Aint worth it” like any normal person, he pulls out his flint-lock rifle and slams it into the snake basically saying “You want a piece of this? No? Then beat it.”

The big toad actually turns out to be an immortal, skilled in toad magic (蝦蟇の妖術 – “Gama no Yōjutsu”) and in gratitude, teaches Jiraiya what he knows. Around this time, Gundayu has become the right-hand man of the local Daimyo (Japanese fuedal Lord) living the lap of luxury in a castle.

You know the kid who almost got thrown over the edge? Well at this point, his mother and father (now out of prison) decide to get a little payback and try sneaking into the castle to exact revenge (Go team!) but get taken down and killed easily (……)

Jiraiya hears about this and thinks “Oh hell no!” so he storms in using his toad magic and various other skills and strikes down Gundayu (Coudln’t have made it a little sooner, no?) so in the end, almost everyone dies, child abuse, prostitution, magic and guns- sounds like something Shakespeare would write! Which is why it spawned those extra 43 books later on.

If you want to know what happens to Jiraiya afterwards, I’ll include the rest of the story at the end of this post.

Now, as I mentioned earlier- Jiraiya, name spelt with 児雷也 meaning “Young Thunder”, what the hell has this got to do with Ninja, Toads or anything else for that matter? And the answer is! …Nothing. Actually, not a damn thing. BUT We all know how creative Japanese can get with kanji if they sound the same, don’t we?

The character Jiraiya was actually based on a chinese folk story of a real-life thief and jailbreaker from either the Song or Tang dynasty of China called “Garaiya”. The reason he was called “Garaiya” is because after he burgled someone he would carve a signiature “我来也” (“Garaiya”) into their walls (talk about adding insult to injury). “我来也” translates as “I came” …NO! Not in that way, you dirty minded perve! It was basically an old chinese way of writing “I woz ere” like you see on the door of every single toilet cubicle. When translated into Japanese, “Garaiya” reads as “Jiraiya”, and using kanji with the same reading you get 児雷也!

So there you have it! That’s how the loveable perve in the Naruto anime came to be. If you want to read where Tsunade and Orochimaru come into this story, just continue reading, but for the rest of you- the train stops here.

Just as perverted, not as hairy,
-RyuuOnii

Okay! So if you’re still reading, then that means I’m awesome and you want to give me all your money. Sweet. But in return, I’ll continue the story.

After taking down Gundayu, Jiraiya continues on his trails. But armed with his newfound Poliwog Powers he decides to try and take on the guy who ruined his family; Sarashina Tsumorinosuke, but apparently he still wasn’t used to them because he failed at beating him, so retreated with his tail between his legs.

But that didn’t stop him from his other adventures! Over time, he gained many followers and whilst travelling through Shinano province (Modern Nagano Prefecture) including a girl skilled in snail magic; Tsunade! (綱手).

Tsunade learnt Snail magic while she was in the forest collecting brush-wood for fuel, which she usually does to help her family. While she was in the forest, an old man came up to her and said that she shouldn’t be afraid, because he is really an immortal snail in human form and that he has lived in the mountains for hundreds of years and he’s decided to teach her what he knows.

Tsunade jumps at the chance and studies with the man, learning as much as she can. One day he says that he has taught her all that he can and that she must join with Jiraiya as his wife, instead of asking “Why?” she agrees to it and by chance they find each other, to marry.

Now there’s another guy by the name of Yashagoro (夜叉五郎), and his backstory is a matter of debate.
There are two theories;

One was that he was once a follower of Jiraiya but was lured and overcome by the same snake Jiraiya fought off earlier and became infatuated with snake magic after which he took the name 大蛇丸 (“Orochimaru”) meaning “Great/Monstrous Snake”.

The other seems a little more plausible, given his name. The name Yashagoro means that he is the 5th son of a Buddhist deity. His mother was that of a great snake so he was endowed with Snake magic. “Orochimaru” is a name he took to strike fear into his enemies.

Here’s what’s a little odd; Snakes are stronger than Toads, Toads are stronger than Snails… but Snails are somehow stronger than Snakes? How the hell does that work out?!

But anyway, that’s how you get an old-fashioned Rock, Paper, Scissors in this piece of Japanese storytelling.

Around this time war broke out between two clans; The Tsukikage and The Inukage. The Tsukikage sought out the help of Jiraiya and Tsunade while The Inukage enlisted help from Orochimaru.

During one of their battles, Jiraiya went to rest in a monastary with some of his most trusted followers. At this monastary there was also a princess names Tagoto there too because she was hiding from Orochimaru who wanted her for a wife.

Orochimaru somehow heard about where Jiraiya was, and that Tagoto was there too so he turned himself into a snake and slid in through the cracks and crannies of the building. When it turned night, he slid up to Jiraiya and Tsunade and poisoned them with some of his toxic venom. Afterwards, he turned back into a man and kidnapped Tagoto!

The priests at the monastary recognized the symptoms and said that both Jiraiya and Tsunade would be dead within 30 hours if they didn’t get the elixir. The only problem was that the Elixir is only found in India from the mountain spirits.

Luckily, there was Rikimatsu who was just 14 years old, but endebted to Jiraiya for saving his and his father’s life. Rikimatsu was also skilled in Tengu magic (basically, Bird magic) and said that he would fly to India and back to get the medicine.

He rode for one day and one night straight with no sleep, no food, no nothing and made it back just in the nick of time. He administered the elixir to Jiraiya and Tsunade and they woke up feeling right as rain.

They got up, and went straight for Orochimaru and after a long and arduous battle they left victorious. Orochimaru was killed, princess Tagoto was saved and the battle was won in favour of the Tsukikage.

In appreciation, Jiraiya was made Daimyo of Izu Province, now a part of Shizuoka. There he lived out a happy life, looking after his family, reading many books and la-de-da-di-dah, same old happy ending.

…Damn this was long. Took me a damn long time to research about it too, you’d best be happy!

Hands are hurting and not from fapping,
-RyuuOnii

Sources:
“Ninja Attack! True Tales of Assassins, Samurai and Outlaws” – Hiroko Yoda and Matt Alt.
“Japanese fairy world. Stories from the wonder-lore of Japan” – William Ellior Griffic (1880 – Read it here! )
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jiraiya
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ogata,_%C5%8Cita and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ogata_no_Saburo_Koreyoshi
http://romenov.com/daniel/?cat=46

Idols, Moe and Jesus Christ?

If there is one aspect of Japanese culture that I can safely say that I despise then that is the “Idol” culture. The cute little girls that constantly have a  smile plastered on their face and pump out auto-tuned songs with their cat-like voices screeching through the vocals with music videos for pure fan-service.

“But wait!” I hear you say, “I thought you were a Japanophile, you’re supposed to like everything about Japan, right?” Well, yes. But the thing is that, in my opinion, Idols are not part of the “real Japan”. Not for me, anyway.

While I admit to love watching them jump up and down, dancing to whatever song in skirts the same length of a belt,  or in their music videos in nothing but underwear kissing each other, if I ever hear anyone say “They’re so talented!” I have to physically hold myself back from punching them square in the face. They are not talented, at all, they were just born with lucky genes which made them cute and that’s it.

I think that’s my main problem with idols, and celebrities around the world in general. That people can become famous and earn a lot of money without a single shred of ingenuity or skill to get where they are and I see that as a kick to the groin to all those who work full-time jobs and break their backs just to scrape enough to live.

I will give Japanese Idols one thing though, they must have some serious willpower, in place of talent at least. I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be able to go longer than 10 minutes with a beauty contest smile on my face without looking like I’d just gotten Botox, scaring any kids that cross my path.

This one named “Rola” is Half Bangladeshi, Quarter Japanese and Quarter Russian. Frequently on TV and ALWAYS makes this annoying face, among others.

Another thing that a lot of them are doing, which is actually becoming very popular with asian girls nowadays is that they get their eyes surgically altered to make them look bigger! (Check here for a news report on the procedure)

Quick question; would anyone else reading this get plastic surgery for their job?

But what is a Japanese person’s view of Idols? Well obviously, you’ll find those who love them and who hate them. So instead, let’s just ask for a definition.

Today’s definition is brought to you by Yamamoto Yutaka (山本豊), the creator of “The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya”, “Lucky Star” and “Kannagi”.

He says;

“If you translate ‘idol’ into Japanese, it is ‘image’. Like an image of Christ.”

The kanji he’s referring to is 神像 (“Shinzo” which means “Idol“, but literally “Depiction of God”.)

“And when you say ‘idol’, it means something that’s not real. It’s shrouded in lies. Communal worship of the image is what creates an idol. An Idol is about remaining as close to the image in the minds of the believers as possible. I want idols to remain wrapped in lies, and I don’t care what the real person is doing. In a way, it’s a sad existence, but that tragedy is also appealing.”

I agree that it has to be a sad existence. There was recently a “big scandal” about how some members of the popular Idol group AKB48 were caught with boyfriends, oh NOEZ! Seriously, that is a big offence to the same degree as murder in Idol circles. Crazy.

“It’s similar for anime characters. Anime is a lie drawings of a human form. But when wrapped in the right lies, the character can create a sense of moe in the viewer.”

Now, I bet you’re sat there scratching your head thinking “What the hell does ‘Moe’ mean?”. Allow me to explain;

Moe is a Japanese pun on the words “萌える” (“Moeru”) which means “To bud” and “燃える” (Also “Moeru”) which means “To burn”. So it currently means something along the lines of “Getting fired up for budding young beauties”, but colloquially “To have a crush on” (or basically just “getting a hard on at the sight of her” in western terms.)

The origins of this word coming to mean what it does now are a little unclear but the most likely origin is that it was a typo on 2channel (a popular forum in Japan, of which 4chan was based upon) because of the way Japanese keyboards convert Hiragana into Kanji and both words having the exact same pronunciation.

So yeah, I absolutely hate Idols because of their complete lack of talent, but I’ve also come to pity them, very much so.

But. After everything’s said. There is one, ONE, girl in an Idol band that I have a big crush on. Purely just because I like looking at her, I wouldn’t dream to call her “Talented” and the worst part about it is that she’s from AKB48 (whom I absolutely despise) and her name is Itano Tomomi (板野友美).
I can’t help it… forgive me my idol for I have sinned all upon your bikini pictures.

Worshipping every night the wife’s not home,
Ryuu Onii

Izakaya, Bondage and Underage Girls?!

Fujiko Pic (4)

An Izakaya (居酒屋) is a type of bar very popular around Japan. The Kanji literally means “Home Alcohol Shop” which is why most Izakaya’s tend to look quite down-to-earth without much pretentiousness about them. Most Izakaya serve food, too. Something along the lines of ramen, fried rice, gyoza or fried chicken, among other things.

But with the current economy, everyone is struggling and businesses are finding it more and more difficult to keep the customers coming which leads to business owners trying the weird and wonderful in order to keep going. And we all know just how weird and wonderful Japan can be.

On my previous blog I did a post about a “Black Bondage Izakaya” chain resturaunt popping up all over Japan called “SEXY居酒屋ふじこちゃん” (“Sexy Izakaya Fujiko-chan“) that had started out in Kyoto and were opening their 7th chain in Iidabashi in Tokyo at that time, now up to 9! (where’s the 6?)

There was an abundance of pictures of some of the barmaids looking like they’d just walked out of a straight-to-video BDSM tape, the only thing missing being a ball gag. I also remember quoting the manager of one of the resturaunts as saying “If the girls wear extreme costumes like this, there’s no way we could lose!” and to be honest, I agree with him because no red-blooded human male would turn down a chance to see girls in bondage, jumping and jiggling around all excitedly up to their table so they can get down on their knees and toss the customer’s salad.

…You thought I was going to say something else, didn’t you? Perve.

But yeah! The guy said “No way we could lose“, fast-forward a couple of months and I see on the news that the police did a crackdown on this particular chain of restaurants for hiring girls under the age of 18. D’oh!

Re-visiting their website again, it’s a WHOLE different set-up, the same girls I remember seeing in skimpy black outfits are now clad up looking like schoolgirls. They still have an interactive menu (available here) but like the rest of the page, instead of seeing thin black leather bras, they’re just in swimwear (Just?! There’s no satisfying me, it seems).

In my opinion, it completely loses that “Wow!” factor and goes back to being a mediocre bar served by cute girls, of which there are many in Japan. But in all seriousness, I can totally see why they pulled it back a bit, given the large amount of bad publicity it got… oh yeah, and underage girls and whatever (they’re over 16, they’re legal to me! Just not for work, I guess…)

Check out the gallery below for some of the old pictures I managed to scrounge left from the internet. I also want to note that to the best of my researching ability, all girls shown in these pictures are over 18. Don’t sue me. Please. I don’t wanna lose this cardboard box.

Are you a real Otaku?

patrick_galbraith_otaku_japanpodshow

What does it mean to be “Otaku“?

There’s something that I hear quite often nowadays, and every time I do it never fails to send a shiver down my spine like touching something made of velvet (I don’t know what it is, it’s just freaky, alright?!) and that is hearing people run around saying “I’m an Otaku!”.

Each time I hear that, I both UBERrage and die a little inside.

Okay people, here’s the first rule about Otaku, about REAL Otaku that is; They don’t tell people they’re Otaku! Never, ever, in a million years. It just doesn’t happen.

When I hear someone call themselves Otaku, I get the same impression of them as I would of people calling themselves nerds (vs. actual nerds).


So what does it mean to be an Otaku? Well, I’d say the best person to ask would be the long-ruling Otaking (“Otaku King“) Okada Toshio  岡田斗司夫. He had an interview with Patrick W. Galbraith for his book “The Otaku Encyclopedia: An insider’s guide to the subculture of Cool Japan” where he describes what he would call an Otaku, he says;

“An otaku is someone who is smarter than average people but chooses to divert their mental ability to childish hobbies It’s not about quitting the things that enthralled you as a kid. It isn’t childish. An Otaku is not a loser or someone who can only understand childish things. They understand high culture such as fine art but nonetheless insist that anime and manga are better. That is Otaku”

A pretty fair assessment, and who would know better than him? But he’s no longer the “Otaking“.
He renounced his title after coming to the conclusion that Otaku are already dead“, in which he meant that the culture of Otaku that he once knew are becoming much more seperated with various groups pursuing their own mania, he says;

“I often use the United States as an example, because the US has many people of different backgrounds, valus and beliefs, but they still recognize that there’s something that binds them as Americans. The same was true for otaku, with various genres and interests connected by some common ideas. But somewhere along the line these things were lost. All that remains are the divided groups. I’m not saying that Otaku and their activities today are bad, not at all, just that the thing we all shared as a culture has been overthrown. What that means is we are no longer “Otaku” sharing something, but “mania” involved in our own personal pursuits“.

Now I just want to explain the difference between two things which often get confused with each other, and it continues to annoy the b-Jesus out of me each and every time.

Okay, there’s “Otaku” (or “Weeaboo” in internet-speak) and there’s “Japanophile”.

I won’t go into the details, but as you might have guessed from the word, Japanophile means someone who has a love of Japan and all things Japanese. This is where I would put myself. I have a great love for the Japanese language, culture, history, history and much more (especially Japanese girls, oh my…).

Is it true that I’ve probably watched more than 300-400 hours of anime?…Maybe.
Is it true that I’ve spent another 500+ hours playing Japanese games like Final Fantasy, Cave Story, Pokemon and Digimon? …*Ahem*.

But does that make me an Otaku? Hell no! The so-called “Otaku” nowadays like Japan because they like Anime and Manga. I liked Anime and Manga because I like Japan, and that is the big difference.

But I suppose that’s my own beef because when it comes to stuff like that, I get very protective of the original culture (or in this case, sub-culture) but I do realize how things change over time and it’s just something I have to get used to. I have an interest in Anime and Manga, just don’t call me “Otaku“.

Always a Japanophile,
Ryuu Onii