This commercial for Gin no Sara is all about being able to tell quality sushi ingredients from fakes.
[Download Hajimari no Ballad MP3]
So I love "Street Snaps" or Street Fashion, where erstwhile photogs wander around large cities and take snapshots of people whose fashion sense intrigues them. But it's very hit-or-miss.
Sometimes I can pick up some really interesting ideas.
Sometimes it's a great way for me to see what the fashion outliers are doing in a certain city.
And then sometimes, I'm just like, "Girl, you just cut your coat up and wore it inside out and upside down."
"According to Johnny’s Entertainment, Aiba felt sharp chest pains during the filming of “Arashi ni Shiyagare“. After the filming ended, he immediately went to the hospital for examination, and was hospitalized. On the 29th, he was diagnosed with spontaneous pneumothorax. Aiba will be hospitalized for about a week, then will briefly rest for his health."
A spontaneous pneumothorax is where your lung collapses due to air being in the chest cavity outside of it. My boyfriend had this happen to him when he was 16. The doctors told him it sometimes happens to tall skinny dudes for no apparent reason. He said it hurt a lot when it first happened because all the air outside his lungs was putting pressure on his heart, and it hurt when they took out the chest tube, but other than that, it wasn't so bad.
I hope Aiba-san feels better soon! I can't believe he finished filming and then went to the hospital.
[Download "Hanataba" by Back Number MP3]
The overriding theme of this week's countdown seems to be "dudes with beards." There are a lot of acoustic guitar-heavy songs being sung by slightly older guys with facial hair. And I like that. A lot. I have a thing for that.
There's also a fair amount of 演歌 on the countdown this week. Three songs in fact. I always like it when that happens. You don't see the 演歌 promoted a lot, as if it's not really part of the popular culture-- persumably because it's not "cool". And yet, people keep buying enough 演歌 singles to keep at least one on the charts every week. It just serves as a reminder that culture isn't always what it promotes itself to be; advertisers and media put a shiny wrapper on what they think are the marketable parts, but the reality can often be quite different.
On to the rest of the countdown...
Choshinsei has fallen all the way from #20 down to #20, but are still hanging on, I suspect thanks solely to the fact that they are all incredibly hot. BEAST is still reminding us of what terrible dancers they are down at #17, and Super Girls, Morning Musume, and AKB48 are all over the middle of the chart as a reminder that you can't escape the indomitable power of a gaggle of cute girls. Dir En Grey pops up at #5 to terrify us with see-through jaws and quick cuts of creepy black-n-white footage of people panicking, stampeding, and probably killing stuff too.
Meanwhile, a #4 debut for T.M. Revolution's new single "Flags" has got to be a disappointment for them. They were beat out this week by three other groups, including AAA with "No Cry, No More," a mediocre song that debuted at #3. I like AAA. I really do--enough to watch all the episodes of some ridiculous cooking school show featuring super powered cookware just because it had Nishijima and Katae in it-- but I calls 'em like I sees 'em.
"Replay" by SHINee debuted at #2 (and I suspect will quickly fall off the charts in coming weeks) while this week's top dog, "Flower" by Maeda Atsuko, will probably stick around for a week or two.
Ostensibly, they're trying to appeal to women.
They said the situation had been contained, but it turns out that all 3 reactors at Fukushima Daichi experienced total meltdown. The main reactor melted down within 16 hours of the initial disaster and the other two melted down sometime during the following week.
What does that mean? Michio Kaku gives a good explanation in the video above. Basically a "meltdown" occurs when the fuel rods (radioactive material) aren't properly cooled and melt into a gooey puddle of radioactive gunk. Gunk is worse than rods because gunk causes Hydrogen explosions and burns through what it touches to leak out into the environment. Both spread massive amounts of radiation into the surrounding area.
The reactors were saved from giant, vaporizing explosions by the sea water the government pumped in to cool the material (seawater that was contaminated and pumped back out into the ocean).
The video above is quite sobering in its description of what came very very close to happening at Fukushima Daichi. As it is, the devastation caused by the "contained" meltdown is disturbing enough:
"Akira Tashiro, one of Japan’s most respected investigative journalists on nuclear issues, recently returned from Fukushima and his testimony is sobering. Even Akira, who has visited Three Mile Island and Chernobyl and co-authored a book on radiation damage, was clearly shaken by the plight of the people in the no man’s land around the plant. He quotes a dairy farmer near the evacuation zone, describing the invisible radiation’s leakage as a tsunami that never seems to roll back.'"
Given the extent of the damage, one has to wonder if Fukushima will become a word as synonymous with nuclear disaster as Chernobyl.
Labels: Current Events
With the assistance of friends and family, 7-Eleven store owner Takashi Watanabe has re-opened the store in the heart of Miyagi prefecture that was washed away 3 months ago.
It might look like a pile of crates and some cardboard to you, but for members of the community, this stand represents a precious (if small) return to normalcy.
Labels: Current Events
On March 14th, in a symbolic gathering to show sympathy and compassion for the people of Japan, several young Afghanis got together at the Bamyan center in central Afghanistan to express their support. In this gathering of community members, young boys & girls, and journalists, a three article resolution was read aloud:
"With regard to human values and emotions, we share our heartfelt sorrow with the victims of the recent catastrophe.
As the government and the people of Japan have put a lot of effort into the reconstruction process of Afghanistan, we also announce our readiness for any possible help and support.
We ask the government of Afghanistan that, based on its capacity to do so, to support and help the victims of the recent catastrophe."
I think the words on their banner say it best. Even if you feel like you can't do anything to help, your will always have your words. Sometimes, just saying that you are there for someone can help.
Labels: Current Events
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan leaves the plenary session at the lower house, after surviving a no-confidence motion against him.
Around the web, Japanese citizens, ex-pats, and foreign residents are all talking about the no confidence vote and what it means for the country.
"How is this Ozawa not in jail yet? Talk about the rich being above the law."
"Don't let the door hit ya on the way out, you snake!"
"Well, i think even if it's a power move, it does make sense for ozawa to do this just based on his policy choices which are much different than the one's Kan's DPJ holds. i think some of Kan's pro-business choices have hurt and confused the DPJ brand from what it was when it came into power. it probably makes sense to split and clearly make the distinction for the voters so they know where exactly the parties stand on the issues when they go to vote."
"Yes please. Actually Kan should be encouraging this, put Ozawa and all his fellow cronies all on one party. Call it the Bitter Old Crony party, and it will allow people to really have an explicit choice whenever an election is called."
"Well, this is already the de facto situation anyway. Kan has been trying to get by governing while shutting out half the members of the DPJ anyway, so maybe this is for the best."
"My preference is that Kan leaves today and DPJ salvages itself, by forming a cabinet inclusive of all factions, like the Hatoyama cabinet did.
If Kan insists on running the DPJ with only 52% of its members, then by the end of today, that is all he will have left, and the LDP will end up as it de facto is - the biggest party left in parliament with the authority to try to form a government."
"I'm waiting for Ozawa to come out with his two pet phrases, the first being that he will risk his political career on this move, and the second that he is working for the people of Japan. Neither is true. Ozawa's career is built on these destructive acts. It is also clear that he has little interest the welfare of this nation. If he did, and if his sycophantic weenies and botchan such as Hatoyama within the DPJ cared about the country, they would be working with Kan toward reconstruction, rather than against him. Same goes for Tanigaki and the LDP."
"Kan has, unfortunately, made himself a straw man, and it would appear that he is not a viable option as PM.
More dysfunctional governance to follow...
It would be a travesty if this ends up benefiting the LDP."
"I was surprised to see Ozawa's face all up and down the coast of Iwate. The people there seem to support him - or at least they have up to this point. I wonder what the disaster victims think of all this grandstanding. (Or perhaps they wouldn't use such a negative term as me.)
To me it looks like a bunch of opportunistic asshats jumping at the chance to grab more power for themselves.
My views don't count though, and I realize that."
"Ozawa has never started a new party that wasn't all about What's In It For Ozawa. He does not offer any kind of different type of representation. Far from it - while being a member of the DJP (while it suits him) Ozawa is more old-time LDP than the LDP.
"Kan seems to be pretty much par for the course, and Ozawa, as far as I can see, doesn't have anything special either.
How about someone getting up there who can actually communicate, who truly represents the hopes and wishes of the people, rather than the vested interests or the American diplomats that no one seems to be able to say "no" to."
"It's how Ozawa shuns stooping to the power usurped/manipulated by Japan handlers and their agents. Kan is a really stupid premier thinking he wears new clothes."
"Japan is in the midst of its worst crisis since the end of the war, and all the spoiled little children who are in the Diet can think to do is "play politics". But, sadly, the Japanese people have no one to blame but themselves for this sad state of affairs as they let these guys, especially the LDP, pass election laws that make elections nothing but a two-week beauty contest. Politics is a farce in Japan -- with all the white gloves and sound trucks. Emphasis on meaningless process/gestures and not results."
"Apparently Ozawa's ego is bigger than the challenges facing Fukushima. It is to laugh."
Yesterday, we reported that the opposition LDP along with "rebel" factions of the JDP, led by Ichiro Ozawara, planned to bring a vote of no confidence against Prime Minister Naoto Kan. The motion was raised and once the vote was held, Kan survived, but only amidst promises that he will resign this autumn once he has brought the country's current crisis under control.
In the end, all but two JDP members voted against the motion and the "leader" of the "rebel" JDP faction, Ozawa, abstained from voting. The choice to offer up his own resignation as an olive branch was a smart move on Kan's part, and when I say "smart", I don't mean in terms of political maneuvering, I mean it in terms of what is best for the country. Even after surviving this first vote of no confidence, chances were slim that he could have survived another, not with such dissent in his own party and a powerful opposition party that blocks him at every turn. But the offer of resignation will at least keep the JDP from splitting up and causing even more political maneuvering as the coalitions try to realign themselves when they should really be spending their time and energy on pulling Japan out of its current crisis.
It's to be expected that members of the opposing party will do all that they can to, well, oppose the ruling faction. But it's the rabble-rousing in Kan's own JDP, led by Ozawa, that really gets me. No matter how you look at it, this no confidence vote and the politics that surround it are nothing more than an opportunistic power grab. The sponsors of the motion said that they were raising the vote of no confidence because they were dissatisfied with the way the PM has been handling the current crisis. If that were so, then why would they be mollified with an offer to resign after the current crisis has been dealt with? Regardless of whether the recent indictment against Ozawa in a funding scandal was political maneuvering or the honest truth, he and his followers in the JDP are using the chaos and discord of the current crisis to make a grab for power and are further destabilizing an already weak government at a time when the country can ill afford such distractions.
In fact, even this unsuccessful no confidence vote sent the Nikkei reeling and added an air of futility to Kan's current diplomatic talks with factions in Vietnam. If you're unsure whether the current PM is going to be leading the country next week, why would you bother to negotiate seriously with him?
Once Kan resigns, he will be the fifth Prime Minister to enter and leave the office in as many years. I can't even name most of them since Koizumi. I know there was Abe and some guy people were putting on posters, and that's about it. If you can name them, you either live in Japan, or are a true scholar of Japanese politics.
With a job turnover rate higher than most McDonald's, the office of Japan's Prime Minister has been all but castrated by political infighting. It takes time to develop diplomatic relationships--time that most Japanese PMs don't get. It is anecdotally reported that Bill Clinton once stabbed himself in the leg with a fork in an effort to stay awake during a fledging PM's dinner-time diatribe about the unique diplomatic vicissitudes of Japan-- not because he wasn't interested, but because he had already heard the same speech several times from other PMs. (In case you were wondering, there were six different PMs during Clinton's term as President.)
I'm all for change if the government isn't working how it's supposed to. But beaurecratic and logistic reforms would do much more to help the Japanese constituency during this crisis than splitting up the JDP and replacing the Prime Minister. Infighting at the upper levels will only serve to present a muddied political message that will weaken Japan's international presence at a time when they need to have strong international relations; to receive aid, to prevent devaluation of the currency, to settle nuclear fears.
[Download "Esperanza" MP3]
Amuse Inc has created an in-house super group called Team Amuse consisting of more than 50 of their talents. The group-- which includes Ueno Juri, Porno Grafitti, Southern All Stars, and Perfume-- released a single called "Let's Try Again" on April 30th which managed to make it to #2 on the Oricon Charts this week. Kuwata Keisuke (who I will always remember as the lech who sexually harassed women dressed as bunnies on 2010's Kohaku Uta Gassen) penned some new music which was mixed with older, well-known hits by Team Amuse members to create the song. This aural mish-mash prompted one reviewer to comment:
"…well. The idea behind it is decent, but really... Who wants to hear 9 minutes of popular pop hits being forced to pass through a strainer, rendering them almost unrecognizable?"
Proceeds from the sale of the single-- available as a CD and on iTunes Japan-- will go towards disaster relief in the Tohoku region.
The big news this week is how AKB48 broke the record for first week single sales. Their single 「Everyday, Kachuusha」sold 1,334,000 copies in its first week, topping the record of 1,208,000 set by Mr. Children's 「Namonaki Uta」 back in 1996.「Everyday, Kachuusha」is the eighth straight AKB48 single to debut at #1. I've said it once, and I'll say it again: Never underestimate the power of the Otaku horde!!
With record labels churning out singles faster than Takahashi Minami can say "it’s all thanks to all of our fans," the rest of this week's countdown is a jumble of new, first week singles trying not to meet the same fate as their one-and-done counterparts from the previous weeks. In the summertime, you can really tell if a single is any good by whether or not it lasts more than one week on the charts. This week, just 13 of the top 30 have been around for more than one week. Jan Keung Suk's 「Let Me Cry」 and Shoujou Jidai's 「Mr. Taxi」 are the only singles that have managed to hang on for more than a month.
With 17 new singles on the charts this week, we'll see who manages to have any staying power.
All the new hits will be added to the AntiOccident Radio Station - the best way to listen to the latest J-Pop hits!
We'll also have downloads of Kuraki Mai's new single 「Mou Ichidou」(debuting at #7 on this week's charts) later on in the week.
View the entire Oricon Singles Ranking for 6.06.11 (Japanese)
It's getting warm outside, but not quite hot enough that you want to melt into a puddle of goo. There's still a little bit of time to enjoy the outdoors before July's sweltering heat sends us running for the air conditioner. That's why the theme of this month's wallpaper pack is "garden."
36 kind-of-sort-of-loosely related to Japan garden-themed wallpapers await you in the June Wallpaper album. For those of you not familiar with Picasa, you use the "Download" button at the top of each image to get the full-size image.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan prepares to offer a flower for Japan"s unidentified war dead at Chidorigafuchi National Tomb on May 30.
The Japanese PM, Naoto Kan, is facing threats of a no-confidence vote from his own party, the DJP. It's not that he's particularly done anything terrible, but he had the misfortune of being in power during one of the most difficult periods in Japan's recent history. He's got a budget crisis and the largest rebuilding program since WWII on his hands. He also faces a lot of opposition in the rival party, the LJP, and his own party members are blaming the subsequent political log jam on him. Add to that a strong rival within his own party, Ichiro Ozawa-- who was indicated in a funding scandal and seems like a real slippery huckster-- and you've got an internal party rebellion on your hands. Analysts say the PM is likely to survive this attack, but his long-term prospects aren't looking so good, as the number of DJP "rebels" is growing every day.
I Love What You're Not Doing for Me: Toyota
Japan's auto sales in May were the worst since 1968 with Toyota Company sloshing around the very bottom of the automotive barrel.
The Tachikawa Job
A suspect in the nation's largest ever cash heist was arrested this morning. 31 year old Hideaki Ueki, who has ties to organized crime, robbed a security company office in Tachikawa on May 12th and got away with ¥604 million in cash. His suspected accomplice, 41 year-old Yutaka Watanabe is still on the lam, and as many as 10 others are suspected to have cooperated in the robbery.
Sumo is set to resume its normal tournament schedule next month after being suspended amidst a plague of bout rigging in all levels of the sport. The cancellation of the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament in March was the first such cancellation in over 65 years. The Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament will signal the return of the sport on July 10-24.