Sunday, July 31, 2011

Cousin Kevin


Just in case you were following... I presented my Friday blog BEFORE my Thursday one. Whoops! How's that for wanting to get to the nitty gritty?

It's Saturday, September 21, 1991 - I'm covered in sweat and other bodily fluids. It was a good night.
No one ever told me I could get laid in Japan - hell, I would have come to this country sooner.

I love Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken, Japan.

My ex-girlfriend Ashley with whom I am sleep with on a semi-regular basis spent the night at my apartment. Since last night was another marathon session, we sleep in until 11AM, get up, shower together, need another shower, then sort of get dresses and watch television all day long.

It's an ugly day outside that looks like the skies are about to open up - but it hasn't yet.

At 5PM, I ride with Ashley back to her place in Nishinasuno-machi (Town of Nishinasuno) 20-minutes away, and then race back to my place. I've been invited to a 'disco party' tonight. Matthew was invited too... and I no longer recall if Ashley was, but she isn't going. Probably a good thing, as that way people won't think she and I are a couple again. Though that prospect isn't alarming for me, it seems to be for her.

I know all of the other assistant English teachers on Tochigi's JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme  know we were an item, but that we have been so rocky that no one wants us to be together. Apparently Ashley and I are great together in doses not less than 47 minutes but no longer than 24 hours.
Showered and dressed, Narita-san (Mrs. Narita) comes to pick me up as I am on the phone with Catherine. Again. She keeps calling me. I guess she does like me. But dammit, I don't want a girlfriend. I'll take what she's offering, but that's it.

Narita-san drives to a nearby mall, parks andwe get into a coach bus parked there. Narita-san is a very attractive married woman who is in my beginner's night time English class I teach with the Ohtawara International Friendship Association on the side of my regular JET job as a junior high school English teacher. Nowaday's, some might call her a cougar. But, as far as I know, she was loyal and faithful. I think she just liked to party and flirt and have fun.

The bus then drives off towards the north end of Ohtawara stopping off at the Asian Rural Institute. Holy crap. There sure are a lot of gaijin (foreigners) on this bus!

The Institute gang consists of Indian's, Pakistani's, Chinese, Vietnamese and more who have come to this country to learn about Japanese farming techniques - techniques that they can hopefully take home and apply successfully in their native country.

We drive on to a place called "Galaxy", that is shaped like a dome... hmmm, or like a planetarium.

We dance with the Japanese natives and others. There's little food, but the drinks are free!

There's a very cute young lady from my former Thursday night conversation class. What the hell is her name?! She and I dance with each other a lot. She like me, and I want to do things to her. I tell her we'll go dancing in Utsunomiya (Tochigi-ken's capital city) sometime soon, but that we'll have to leave her mother at home. She laughingly agrees, leans in and gives me a kiss on the lips. I tell her we don't have to go dancing. I tell ya... it was like watching a lobster cook. She turned red so fast I thought she was going to die.

I lean close to her ear and ask: "Daijobu desuka (Are you okay?)" She smiles again and stammers out a simple 'Okay".

And then things start to go pissy for me.

Kevin... and American working in Ohtawara through an exchange program with his company comes over and starts talking to her in Japanese. Since that's easier than muddling through English with me, she starts talking with him.

I am fuming!

Fortunately, the music is over, so we go back home. I'm in a bad mood now - having had a woman poached from me... I'm sure as hell not used to that... so I head over to my local watering hole, the 4C.

The 4C is a mere three-minute stagger from my home - two minutes when one is sober and walking to the place. It's not a watering hole per se. It's a very clean and classy bar that seems to have more than its fair share of gaijin customers.

Besides being close to my home, there's also usually a New Zealander bartender or there that works there... so at least I get my drinks made the way I like them. It's usually a beer or a rum and coke, but sometimes it's nice to know you can speak English when you are trying to relax.

Unfortunately, despite the day starting with a bang... this evening has gone downhill and is continuing to go downhill. At the 4C, Kevin, Brian, Matthew and his friend Rob and Matthew's girlfriend Takako are there. Not wanting to hang around and talk near Kevin lest I spit in his drink, I sit at the bar--though I do ask the barkeep if he could maybe spit in his drink for me for 500 yen. He respectfully declines even after I told him what had happened earlier.

So... I see a hot-looking Japanese woman. She seems to know me, and also seems to know I am single at this time. After she greats me with a simple "Konichiwa An-do-ryu sensei (Hello Andrew teacher)" , I join her at a small table for two. I'm speaking broken Japanese and broken English, and she is speaking decent English back. She has her bare left leg pressed up against my right pant leg, and the heat is so high I swear my underwear is melting.

She grabs my hand that is sneaking low on her leg, and places it higher on her bare thigh. And then...

...here comes that blowhard Kevin who again uses his wonderful Japanese language skills to hit on someone I am already well into hitting on.

I excuse myself for a moment and ask Matthew to get him the hell away from me and my date du jour. He glances back over his shoulder and asks Takako to get him to talk with her. She complies without a moment's hesitation.

If I only have one memory of Takako that I could remember, I hope it's that one. I love her for that. Not for her obedience, but rather because she saw me - her friend - could use some help, and she did so without asking any stupid question. Problem. Solution. Problem solved.

Takako actually goes over and grabs Kevin away from the table. I go back to work on the other beautiful young lady in the bar (Takako being the other, of course).

After 10 minutes of me getting my groove back on, Kevin excuses himself from Takako to go to the washroom. Guys... it's always a great idea to keep an eye on the other bastards.

When he comes back, he again starts talking to my girl... in Japanese, again.

He's really pissing me off! And with the amount of alcohol being burned off by my anger, I'm going to beat his ass into submission. The problem is... I'm a JET. I'm also a representative of Canada. I do not wish to do anything in this country that would be embarrassing to my programme or my country. I am only less concerned about myself. Me writing about sex or past relationships in this blog is not embarrassing. Kevin's behaviour, however, was.

So I leave. Don't think me a coward. Being a brown-skinned guy growing up in Toronto, I've been in more fights than I can remember - up until my early 30s. I'll gladly take two to get one in.

Still, all bets are off for the next time I see Kevin.

Somewhere it begins to rain as I walk home,
Andrew Joseph
Today's blog title is by The Who: THATBASTARDKEVIN

Miss Universe


Kojima Akiko - Japan, Miss Universe 1959
Submitted for your approval... Japan and the Miss Universe pageant.

Some of you readers might have noticed that I like women. That's good. You have been paying attention. For the rest of you... let me bring you up to speed: I like women. A lot. There... now you are up to speed.

As such, I have been wondering for quite some time just who some of Japan's most beautiful women are.

The whole thing about beauty, of course is that it is subjective. It is indeed in the eye of the beholder.

I mean, when I was in Japan, my dream was to marry a Japanese redhead with big boobs. An impossible goal, but it really did always make for what I thought was a funny joke. I could always find two out of three...

Stupidity aside, rather than subject you to hundreds, if not thousands of photos of Japanese redheads with a large chest, let's look at some global opinions.

I didn't know who to ask, so I instead examined the Miss Universe pageant... and did a look back to 1990... when I first set foot down on the melting tarmac of Narita Airport in Japan.

From now on all names seen here will be written in Japanese-style - surname first.

Some background:
The Miss Universe contest was first started up in 1952 by the California, company Pacific Mills. Japan's Kojima Himeko was involved, but did not place.

Nowadays, some 600-million viewers tune in to see who will be crowned - and not all of the viewers are men.

Japan's Kojima Akiko was the 1959 Miss Universe. That's her in the photo up above. She was glorious, and probably still is, at age 76.

Japan did have one other Miss Universe winner in 2007, Miss Mori Riyo... and holy crap! Wowzers! Photo below.

No other Japanese woman won the event - but that's not a knock against their beauty, brains and talent of course. They are all fantastic.

I would like to tell you all that I actually slept with a Japanese representative of a Miss Universe contest, but that would be wrong. I would never kiss and tell. Or would I?

Here, without much further ado, are the lovely ladies representing Japan at the Miss Universe pageants from 1990 on:

1990

Miyoshi Hiroko - 49th after preliminary scores.

1991





Yamamoto Atsuko - 61st after preliminary scores.

1992 
No picture: Just the crowning of her as Miss Universe Japan: CROWN - at the 2:30 mark - in blue dress.
Ando Akiko - 59th after preliminary scores.



1993 
No Photo: Video of Parade of nations: 1:25 mark: PARADE


Shiki Yukiko - 52nd after preliminary scores.

1994

Kawahito Chiaki (left) Miss Canada Susanne Rothfoson on right. Chiaki  - 49th after preliminary scores.



1995 
No photo: but a Parade of Nations video... see 10:00 mark: JAPAN


Saeki Narumi - 53rd after preliminary scores.

1996 
No participant


1997 
No participant


1998

Okumura Nana - Couldn't find preliminary score - but out after 1st round.



1999

Ogawa Satomi - preliminary round and out.

2000

Endo Mayu - preliminary round and out.



2001

Arauchi Misao - preliminary round and out.



2002

Chiba Mina - preliminary round and out.



2003

Miyazaki Miyako - 4th runner-up.



2004

Machimoto Eri preliminary round and out.


2005

Kuzuya Yukari preliminary round and out.



2006


Chibana Kurara - 1st runner up and winner of best national costume 2nd Photo.



2007

Mori Riyo - Miss Universe. 
No kidding, eh! I need a towel.



2008

Mima Hiroko - top 15.
There was also a scandal involving Hiroko as Miss Japan, but she was INNOCENT.
Read MY blog HERE for the full story! 



2009

Miyasaka Emiri preliminary round and out.
Plus a news story on her scandalous costume: READ. Gorgeous! And so is the costume!
Here's my blog on her - the full story: HERE
 


2010

Itai Maiko preliminary round and out.
Read the full story on her HERE



2011

Kamiyama Maria



Maria was crowned on June 17, 2011, and will vie for the title of Miss Universe on September 12, 2011 in São Paulo, Brazil against 87 delegates (as of July 29, 2011) from around the globe - in its 60th anniversary! Japan - It's A Wonderful Rife will offer its view on this year's contestant

The 2011 Japanese representative is named Maria? Holy crap! Could she be part of some gaijin invasion force begun 21 years earlier?

Alas - not
THIS gajin. Maria is 24-years-old... I only arrived in Japan 21 years ago. Whew! I think...

Andrew Joseph
PS: What's the deal with no photographs on the Internet of Miss Universe Japan 1992, 1993 and 1995? And no participants in 1996 and 1997? Apparently Japan was upset that they never seemed to get a fair shake in the event, and stayed away until 1998 when Donald Trump purchased the pageant.
PPS: While it may indeed be true that I have "dated" Japanese women who could more than their own in the looks department against many a Miss Universe representative, they probably would never have won a pageant, as they lacked the type of talent judges are looking for. I, however, always enjoyed the talents each possessed.
PPPS: Yes... I did "sleep" with a Japanese representative of the Miss Universe contest... she was part of the entourage of one of the actual beauty queen's. That story will appear in a future blog.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Here Comes The Rain Again


There's a typhoon blowing through Japan - or more importantly, through my city of Ohtawara-shi in Tochigi-ken (Tochigi Prefecture), Japan - today, Thursday, September 19, 1991.

I'm from Toronto, Canada. We don't get typhoons, tsunami or earthquakes or volcanic eruptions. We get snow - not a lot of it, mind you. People are of the misconception that Canada is a vast wasteland of ice and snow, that we use sled dogs to get to work and then back to our igloo homes... or that we just got electricity 10 years ago. Some people actually believe that crap.

Some people in Canada do live like that - but that's only during the winter a way up north near the Arctic Circle. Toronto is actually more southernly than many parts of the U.S. - and I'm not just talking about Alaska!

Snow... we get some snow - and yes, it's cold... but we're actually just above a so-called snow-belt that dumps snow on Buffalo in the US. Yes, we maybe get 8-inches of snow in a storm... and maybe only have three or fours storms a year... but that's it. We still walk to work or school - we just dress warmly. Sometimes I even wear gloves - but never a hat! That would mess up my hair.

And as far as snow and Ohtawara... This past winter  1990-92, we got a lot of snow... the difference is it melts in two days, unlike Toronto where it tends to stay until March. And cold? You bet. Inside it feels colder as there does not seem to be a lot of insulation between the walls in Japanese buildings. I asked about that once, and was told that because of the humidity in the Spring, Summer and Fall, Japanese building don't have insulation and are not as air-tight so as to allow the building to breath. If you are cold, use a kotasu, electric blanket and/or a gas heater - just remember to open a window to vent the gas. So... I'm supposed to open a window to vent the gas... but doesn't the open window let more cold in? Yup. Welcome to Japan.

I complained about how cold I was, and my office - the Ohtawara Board of Education (OBOE) purchased a combination heater/air-conditioner that was very powerful... and I never sweat or froze again - unless I left the confines of my apartment. True.

This is just to tell you that I had never seen natural disasters or weather like what Japan has at any time before in my life.

Oh - and the number of times Godzilla has gone stomping through Ohtawara-shi looking for Mothra!? It's ridiculous... I mean, my first experience with a Godzilla-like creature was a single cockroach in my apartment the day I moved in 13+ months ago. Aside from some spiders on steroids, I've not encountered any other bug in my place.

Stereotypes. Screw'em.

My impression of the Japan prior to arriving was that here were geisha everywhere. I haven't seen one yet! And that all of the men were dressed in navy blue pinstripe suits, wore glasses, had an attache case, straight black hair and had no sense of humour.

Okay... that might have been a poor example of showing how stupid stereotypes are. There are more than enough men in Japan who fit that description. But sense of humour? These guys are stupid funny - and I mean that they are hilarious!

Anyhow... while Tokyo does indeed get its fair share of earthquakes every day (some of which you might even notice), tsunami and volcanic eruptions that affect the country are exceedingly rare. Why am I mentioninig this? It's because there's a typhoon blowing in Ohtawara right now! It's actually typhoon season!

Really? In Canada we have duck season and construction season - but typhoon season? That's insane! Fortunately, there are only about 5-6 typhoons in the late summer, early fall.

I'm just trying to tell you that okay, for maybe 15 days a year in Ohtawara, it rains - hard. In Toronto, it's the same - but it's snowing. It's the same, but different. Welcome to life as a gaijin (foreigner) in Japan.

I'm up at 6:45AM, and despite being in a good mood these past two days, I awake feeling very tired.
 
It's pouring rain.

Fortunately I have an umbrella, which I take with me as I ride my bicycle to Ohtawara Chu Gakko (Ohtawara Junior High School) where I work (this week) as an assistant English teacher on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme.

Unfortunately for me, the umbrella last a whole five minutes before the typhoon's winds shred the fabric covering me.

I am now soaked. My navy blue suit weighs a ton thanks to all of the water it has soaked up, and I'm also riding head-first into the storm.

What's worse, though, is that this is only the beginning of the storm.

(And... just for you, oh reader... here in 2011, I found out that what I was just in - didn't even qualify as a typhoon! In fact... it wasn't even directly over Ohtawara!

Here's some data on Tropical Storm Luke (the actual storm - I found this info in 2011) :
Tropical Storm Luke formed from a disturbance that moved through the Northern Marianas and formed a depression on the 14th of September just to the west of the islands. The depression began to slowly intensify as it moved towards the west-northwest and Tropical Storm Luke was named on the 15th of September. Luke reached peak intensity of 60 mph (97 km/h) prior to recurving to the northeast and weakening due to increased shear. Tropical Storm Luke then paralleled the southeastern Japan coastline, dropping heavy rains. The resulting flooding and landslides killed 8 people and left 10 others missing prior to Luke turning extratropical east of central Honshū Island.

So... despite it not being a typhoon, people died.

Teachers at the school did dig deep and find some clothes for me to wear - it's all sportswear - but it's dry and very warming, both physically and emotionally. They even dug out some slippers for me to wear that actually fit me (almost).

 I actually could ring water from my suit - apparently you shouldn't do that, however, as it tends to make the suits all wrinkly. Some of the female teachers took my suit and hung it up to dry, and watched as a small river fell from it nearly drowning the home economics teacher in the process.

I have six very hot cups of o-cha (Japanese green tea) and then have to pee for four minutes straight. The time was straight... my urine strain was a little wobbly.

Maybe the stars are starting to align up for me? I'm tired and luckily only have two classes to teach at school. I do very little, but that's okay. It doesn't matter because everyone from teachers to students is polite and warm. Perhaps it's because everyone knows that the last tie I was here I was stalked by a university student on a week-long internship program to learn how to teach.

You can read about that HERE, but just know that it was some of the best sex I had ever had! The problem was when she started stalking me, dropping out of school to follow me around, and then dropping by when any guests I had over left so we could screw each other's brains out until the morning, when I would go to work for days and days with out sleep. It was a very tiring  - but wholly satisfying experience.

The head of the English department - Inoue-sensei comes up to me at 4:15PM and asks me to do a recording of an English test for him since I'll be at another school next week.

He' such a nice man! I miss him so much! Besides being a great friend, he also told me so much about life in Japan - a lot of which I have already shared with you, and many more that I will share in the future!

Inoue-sensei gives me a couple of telephone cards for my collection (see HERE for what I picked up), and then asks if I'll be free one Sunday in October to accompany him on a trip to Nasushiobara! I have no idea why, but sure!

It stops raining - or typhooning - or I guess tropical storming as I am about to go home, so at least I'm not going to get soaked again.

At home, Matthew my friend and local legend calls - we ride out for a ramen (noodle) dinner. We then rent a couple of movies and watch one back at my place.

When Catherine Willens calls again at 10PM, I kick Matthew out so I can talk uninhibited until midnight. When we are done exchanging more life stories, she tells me she only actually called to invite me to a party. I can't recall when or where, but it seems she wants me to be her date.

I  guess she doesn't know that while I no longer have a girlfriend in Ashley, am trying to sleep with Karen, and trying date Shoko, I am still a friend-with-benefits with my ex. There's probably a few other women I'm chasing or am sleeping with this week that I haven't mentioned, but since I either can't remember their name or I haven't met them yet, it doesn't matter.    

Before heading to bed, I stay up and do more of my puzzle on the Tower of Babel. The easy part of the puzzle is now finished. Now all I have to do is put together 500 pieces of white fluffy clouds.

Somewhere I am wrinkled,
Andrew Joseph
Today's blog is sung to you by The Eurythmics: Here Comes The Rain Again: POURING

Friday, July 29, 2011

Yakuza vs USA - A True Story

Hi all... my friend Mike has written a pretty interesting piece on the USA's decision to wipe out the Yakuza.

Geez... first the war on drugs. Them the war on poverty (what did the poor ever do to the US? - that was a joke). The war on illegal immigrants - especially if you are Mexican. The war against those who have weapons of mass destruction as an excuse to go in and get some oil. The war against violence. The war against war.

Look... excluding those who get invaded or attacked, I know we respect the USA and its decision to act as a global policeman... but the Yakuza? How about we (Canada is an ally of the USA) pick a war we can win... like that one back in 1983 when it took over Grenada. The US incursion occurred after a coup had overthrown the old socialist leader. Why did it attack tiny little Grenada? Apparently it was building an airport with help from Cuba - which Grenada claimed was for tourism. Then president Ronald Reagan said it was for Soviet use. Nyet, nyet Soviet! (roughly translated as No, no Ruskies!) Shortly thereafter, the USA announced that it would help finish the airport... to develop tourism. Maybe the US just felt slighted it wasn't asked for help first.

By the way... there's a Time Life series of books - 24 of them  - on the Attack on Grenada. One book for each hour it took to take-over Grenada.

Yakuza? Pshaw. This one will be a comic book miniseries.Hell... it sounds like one already. Heads-up US. Beware of tattooed men with perms who might be missing a finger.  READ ON.

Andrew Joseph
PS: There's no Time Life series on the US attack against Grenada. But it does sound like something that publisher would have done!

Novocaine For The Soul


It's Friday, April 20, 1991. It's freezing when I wake up at 6:45AM! It's only September here in Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken, Japan! Last year I was sweating my butt off until November!

Strangely enough, it's not raining today. I thought we were supposed to be getting wiped out by a typhoon - or was that all it had yesterday?

Whoops - at 9AM just before classes actually start at Ohtawara Chu Gakko (Ohtawara Junior High School), it begins to rain. I knew the weather wouldn't let me down!

For some reason, I don't have any classes scheduled for today. Shibata-sensei doesn't tell me why, so I sit here alone in the teacher's office being bored.

Did you know that crossword difficulty is inversely proportional to the amount of free time you have? The more free time you have, the easier the puzzle, thereby ensuring you will be bored quicker.

I have done two puzzles in ink without any errors - and not much hesitation on my part... so I start reading a Sherlock Holmes book I borrowed from Matthew. Matthew is a major fan of the opium-riddled detective, and I have to admit, after watching a lot of the episodes on television these past few months, it has made me want to see what the heck the writing was like. Apparently, the creators of the television show were exceedingly faithful to the writings of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I wish I had a cool name like Conan.

After lunch in the teacher's room, I sit and stare at nothing. Screw this. I want to go home so I can do nothing there.

So at 4PM, I go home and relax... I'm not sure if that's possible considering how little I actually did today, but I do my best.

I watch some sumo (Japanese wrestling) and have found myself really getting into the whole sport.

Ashley comes over at 6PM. She was sick today and didn't go to work at the Ohtawara Boys High School, but she isn't too sick to stay away. I guess this is where I have to be a friend for a few hours later tonight.

So I do. After watching a few videos from back home, we fool around where I show her a neat trick involving my gold chain which she really loves.

This is the way my day ends - with a bang and a whimper.

Somewhere no longer freezing,
Andrew Joseph
Today's music is by: Eels: NUMB

Baseball Great Irabu Found Dead

Former baseball star Irabu Hideki (surname first) who along with Nomo Hideki were pioneers in Japanese baseball players coming over to America, was found dead in his home Los Angeles on Wednesday, July 27 - apparently by suicide.

For a detailed read on the story, let me direct you to my former employers the Toronto Star: HERE.

I was going to put together a nice retrospect of Irabu-san complete with some of the Japanese ball cards I have, but I thought it more prudent to get the story out to all who may be interested.

Andrew Joseph  

Thursday, July 28, 2011

It's Oh So Quiet

It's another pretty good day for me. It's Wednesday, September 18, 1991 and I'm teaching this week at Ohtawara Chu Gakko (Ohtawara Junior High School) here in Ohtawara-shi (Ohtawara City), Tochigi-ken (Tochigi Prefecture), Japan.

I've been here for 13 months+ and I've had my ups and downs in Japan - most of it having to do with women - and not the fact I am living alone for the first time in my life, and doing so in a country I know next to nothing about.

My students are obedient, polite, smart and fun to be around - unlike some school's I won't mention. It was Kaneda Kita Chu Gakko (Kaneda North Junior High School).

I play baseball with the students after lunch again and have a great time talking in Japanese and English to them, as they do the same! This is what being a teacher on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme is all about!

Since there's a teacher's meeting at 4PM, I get to leave early. despite being called a teacher here - I'm not really., I'm a walking, talking, hairy tape recorder - but it's okay. The job is actually easy at good school's like this where the students listen.

After riding home on my bicycle - it's a 10-minute trip, I head over to my back doctor. It's been seven weeks since I last had an adjustment, and man, it feels great! I guess I was merely out of sorts all this past time.

I go shopping and buy a Japanese ready-made meal, instead of going to a fast-food restaurant. If I could learn how to cook this stuff, I'd feel more Japanese than gaijin (foreigner), but cooking for one is an arduous, time-consuming chore.

Back home I eat and finish off half of the bottom of my 5000 piece puzzle of The Tower of Babel - and appropriate theme considering my Japanese language skills are not very good - and I doubt they ever will be. I'm not very good with languages - and even failed Grade 12 English once! (I am a writer now in 2011! So take that high school!)

I go to bed at 12:30AM - after deciding not to call up any more new female JET arrivals to chat. I enjoy the comfort of being alone.

Ashley, my friend-with-benefits (and ex-girlfriend here) did call me up to say she wouldn't be coming for our kyudo (Japanese archery) lesson today as she has the runs. I'm supposed to go by myself tonight, but decide I'm not really in the mood for the frustration the sport brings me.

Oh well... sometimes a guy just needs a night off to relax rather than to be everybody else's monkey.

Somewhere babbling to myself,
Andrew Joseph
Our musical guest sponsoring my title (okay, the song I chose for the title is played by:) is Björk: NICEANDICY-COOL. Her squinty eyes remind me of Ashley's.
PS - Where's all the excitement? Have you ever heard of the 'eye of the storm'? It's slowly coming. Patience, young Jedi.   

U.S. JETS Want To Help Japan


Or... perhaps I should call it: Less Filler - More Thriller!

Here's a story that appeared in the July 27, 2011 edition of The Japan Times (I saw it on-line), followed by my comments: 


Young Americans who will teach English at schools here on an international exchange and teaching program said Tuesday they want to help Japan recover from the March catastrophe. According to the U.S. Embassy and an organizer of the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program, around 700 are coming from the U.S. this summer. About 400 of them arrived Sunday. In total, some 1,600 JETs from 27 nations will come to Japan this summer. 
Wow... I am sure glad that the U.S. JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme teachers are interested in helping Japan out after the fallout from the twin disasters on March 11, 2011 - namely the  9.0 Magnitude earthquake and devastating tsunami. I was initially worried they might not want to be involved at all!

Okay... that was sarcasm. It's a great story. I hope they do as they say they will do.

But... what about the rest of the people soon to be arriving in Japan? There are 26 other countries involved in the JET Programme! Are they not interested in doing something to help Japan out? 

Apparently not. It's only the U.S. At least that's what the story implies. Or is it inferring? Whatever.

As a former newspaper journalist with the Brampton Times, Aurora Banner, Newmarket Era and Toronto Star here in Canada - as well as being a three-year veteran of the JET Programme - I'm slightly offended by this innocuous little story.

It's cool that JET USA wrote that little press release to make their Programme look good. But did no one else think to do that?

Let's suppose that some did - could they not get a mention?

Let's suppose no one else mentioned it at all - the Japan Times is a communications giant. Could they not have made a few calls to various JET airbases - or whatever their headquarters are called and asked if they too are sending over people to Japan who are interested in helping out the country? 

Just think... if you had called up any other country's JET Programme and got a positive answer - that they too are interested in helping out Japan... well, then I guess you have a non-story.

But imagine if one of those countries said, "No, we're not interested in helping Japan" the media could have had a field day!

Sorry... that was lazy journalism by the Japan Times. But what's worse is that it's also not that compelling a story.

How about just stating that new JETS are coming in from 27 countries (list them), telling us how many are coming, and how many in total JET people will that make for 2011... or how many people have on the programme in total since inception? 

Geez... if you want to make a big deal about it... tell us the story of the JET Programme. Who's brainchild? When did it start? How was the initial reaction to having a gaijin (foreigner) stand up and team-teach with a Japanese teacher of English in the classroom? 

Tell a story. 

Don't use JET propaganda as newspaper filler. The JET Programme and all in it are proud of what we did and continue to do. 

We are not filler... and despite what the Japan Times filler piece says, I'm pretty sure we (the newcomers) are all eager to do something to help out the country.

Hell... I do that pretty much everyday in this blog.

Somewhere looking for a filler piece,
Andrew Joseph  

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sunny Days

It’s Tuesday, September 17, 1991 and I feel better today, though with the lack of sleep I am still mentally and physically tired. Emotionally – ahhhh, pretty good.

It might be because today I get to go to work at Ohtawara Chu Gakko (Ohtawara Junior High School) here in Ohtawara-shi (Ohtawara City), Tochigi-ken (Tochigi Prefecture), Japan. After arriving here from Toronto nearly 14 months, I have been enjoying my time here as an assistant English English teacher on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme, though I am unaware of what Canada got in exchange for me. Probably peace and quiet and a higher domestic IQ.

This school is the largest in Ohtawara – and while the kids aren’t necessarily the smartest or the nicest in Japan, they are rather smart and nice – and that’s good enough for me, especially since I spent last week at the what I have dubbed “The School From Hell” – one Kaneda Kita Chu Gakko (Kaneda North Junior High School). I might be wrong in that assessment, but it’s how I feel.

Here at Dai Chu (the nickname for Ohtawara Junior High School) the students come walking calmly up tp me with smiles on their faces to not only greet me, but to talk to me in English first, and then Japanese to see if I have increased my language skills. I have. Sadly not by a lot.

I haven’t seen these kids in a few months, and I have missed them even if I don’t know them by name, I know them by face and actions. They are great kids and hopefully will be great adults.

After lunch with a third-year class, I play some baseball and have a lot of fun.

The whole day is an exercise in Japan proving to me that all my fears about belonging here are unfounded... I mean, students put their hand up to volunteer answers – it might not really be a first here, but it seems like it.

After an enjoyable day with the kids, I go home and don’t really have to unwind or relax. I already feel that way. I go shopping for some food – dinner and Coca-Cola – I buy some pork tontatsu and rice already cooked and just need to heat it up in my convection oven/microwave.

I head over to my night school class – and while there are only six adults there – well... who cares? We have a great class. Shoko isn’t there – the young lady I like, and who likes me – and while I do wonder where she is, my class is probably better than ever as I can concentrate on teaching and having fun rather than trying not to stare into her beautiful brown eyes or get caught staring at her legs as she demurely shields her face from my hungry eyes.

After class, I ride my bicycle over to the local video rental store and get the 1953 movie The Hitch-hiker (intresting enough written by Robert Joseph - no relation) and try to watch it while doing my puzzle. I stop the movie and instead call up one of the newly arrived women on the JET Programme – Amanda Goodsell, a tall bubbly blonde who has zero to interest in me sexually, but I like her. She’s not only cute and smart but possesses a real sarcastic wit that is a complete turn-on for me. We exchange life stories over the course of two hours.

Why am I calling up new JET arrivals every night? Well, to be honest, I am only calling up new female JET arrivals every night... but I know what the first month was like for me in Japan. No, no one asked me to call up people, but aside from the possibility that I might get laid, I just want to make sure everybody survives unscathed. Helping people makes me feel more alive.

That first month in Japan while completely scary, was euphoric... but that next month... when we started work for the first time... that’s when I started to get stressed out a bit by the enormity of the challenge of trying to survive all day long where you may not be understood by a single person. Fortunately for me, my English teachers at the schools were all pretty damn good – and my bosses at the Ohtawara Board of Education (OBOE) were fantastic at keeping tabs on my general well-being without being snoopy.

Amanda, however, is surprisingly well adjusted. She will do well here.

When we finish talking and do my puzzle again and finish the movie and finally crash at 2:30AM?!

Japan has magically restored by faith in her. Or maybe I just feel happy knowing I don’t have to go back to Hell for a while.

Somewhere it’s a different day,
Andrew Joseph

Today’s blog is by Canadian group Lighthouse: WORKSOHARD

Soccer & Softball & Prostituition


This blog has been a popular source of information (and too much information about myself, perhaps) the past week and a half, thanks to Japan and the U.S. going head to head in the finals of two Women's World Cup events - soccer and softball. 

While we all know Japan defeated the U.S on penalty kicks in soccer in a dramatic upset, a lot of people also wanted to find out some information on the USA extracting revenge on Japan in softball. 

All Japan - It's A Wonderful Rife can say is: Thanks for coming to check out the stories. Not too many sites had any sort of roster data for the women's soccer. No one else mentioned Japan winning a few other trophies at the soccer tourney, and certainly few news agencies  were even aware that there was a World Cup softball tournament going on.

Sports coverage (at least here in North America) has been found lacking ... and I'm glad to have been a source of information and amusement.

I find it difficult to believe that here in Toronto, with six daily newspapers: Toronto Star; Globe & Mail; National Post; Toronto Sun; 24; and Metro; plus three major 24-hour sports television stations - that there was no coverage of the World Cup of Softball tournament - and I mean zilch, zero, nada. 

If you wanted to watch the softball final - you had to have ESPN3 - a television specialty channel.... something not generally available in Canada unless you pay a premium for it. Even to watch a live stream of it on the ESPN3 website, I had to hook up with my Internet provider - which I was unable to do because the provider - the largest in Canada (they also own one of the sports stations and Toronto Blue Jays baseball team - was not on the list of providers that ESPN3 recognized. 

The rant is not against all of the sports channels and newspapers.... they do what they do and do it well. I'm sure a Hooter's waitress beauty pageant is considered a sport.  .. just like the making of the Sports Illustrated SwimSuit issue (magazine) that is an hour long show on TV. 

Yes... men like women.

However... if I could say this without sounding like a sexist pig... the Women's World Cup of soccer was played with such fervor, passion and skill, I forgot I was watching women. I was watching soccer players.

Because I was unable to watch the softball game on TV, I can not make that same statement - but I bet it was awesome.

Here's my point. On this blog, Prior to the World Cup of Softball final this past Monday July 25, my all-time four top-rated blog articles all dealt with Japan's triumph in soccer the week previous. No surprise.

But now... nine days later, one of the softball stories has taken over 4th place.  

It has now had more hits than my previous #5 blog entry on Japanese schoolgirl prostitutes.

Really? More than schoolgirl prostitutes? That's number 6 now.  

That's the power of sports... or it it really the power of women? I'm actually quite impressed with my readership.

Keep reading! Always more to come!

Andrew Joseph

Hello, I Love You

Hi. It's Monday, September 16, 1991 and I'm somehow surviving here in Japan. I've been here over 13 months living in the fishbowl that is Ohtawara-shi (Ohtawara City), Tochigi-ken, (Tochigi Prefecture), Japan as an assistant English teacher on the JET (Japan Exchnage & Teaching) Programme.

I haven't been in a great mood for the past couple of weeks. Some of it may be due to the euphoria of my mother flying back to Toronto.

Or maybe it's woman concerns: I had an American girlfriend, but now we're just friends... friends-with-benefits, mind you, plus I have another woman (Canadian)  chasing after me that would like to have a boyfriend, but I just want sex from, and then there's the Japanese fox I like, who likes me, but for whatever reason, the fates continue to conspire against us.

Of course, my mood might also be due to a lot of pressure (real or imagined) from having to perform my duties as a teacher last week at the worst school in the city. Or the fact that I haven't actually gone on vacation in a while (though every day in Japan could be considered a vacation by some people).

Or maybe it's because the Japanese like to invite me out for dinner and drinks - but mostly drinks - that I am feeling like an old distillery.

 Or maybe I miss my female stalker who provided me with awesome nights - so much so that I didn't sleep for a week. Only a guy would sleep with his stalker.

 Or maybe its the fact I don't have a girlfriend, and I want the one I can't have. Or maybe its not doing as well as I wanted in a sport I have no business doing well  - kyudo (Japanese archery), or maybe I'm not sleeping enough or maybe... just maybe I like to worry about things.

Personally, I hope all of this angst is due to me no getting laid enough. A month a ago, I was in Thailand and was getting it four times a day from two Thai women I befriended.... the last time with all three of us together.It's tough to go back to 'routine' after that!

 Maybe it's the heat? Maybe I just miss Ashley and the way we were. I feel absolutely awful after telling her last night that my grandfather had died and I was depressed. He had died, but that was in February. My cat died that month, too. Also a friend back home died, as well.

No... probably just miss the regular sex. People... man does not live on bread alone. We need to be regular, despite all of the fiber in bread. 

I spent last night at Ashley's place. She's my current friend-with-benefits. She's very attractive and very, very smart, but not that smart - else why get involved with me. She's an introvert, while I am an introvert pretending to be an extrovert. Apparently, I'm good at it.

And by the way... who goes to Japan to get an American or Canadian girlfriend? Apparently I do. 

Ashley and I get up at 1PM! We snuggle a bit, talk, get up, talk some more, eat some more of her week-old soup, and talk again.

Don't ask me what we talked about. It was pleasant, but I think I was in shock by all of the crap revolving around me and how I don't think I like the person I am becoming.I need to change. Get back to who I was with a hint of who I want to be.

 I leave her place at 3PM - she wants to do laundry, and I don't want to hang out anymore. I need to feed my fish, anyways.

 Back home in my stately apartment (3 bedrooms, LDK, western bathroom and laundry and two balconies - yes... this is Japan, where everyone lives in a rabbit hutch! Not! Maybe in Tokyo. Maybe) i futz around with my puzzle when I get a phone call from fellow AET John Abraham.

He says he'd like to purchase my motorcycle.I bought a low-powewred motorcycle two months ago, and aside from driving it around while testing it before purchasing it, I have not yet been on it. It scares the crap out of me. Considering how my mind is, do you really think I should be riding a motorbike? My board of education office doesn't want me to because they know I'm accident prone - what with being hit twice on separate occasions by cars while riding my bicycle. I wonder if I gave myself brain damage then. It would explain so much.

 So... he quickly comes over, hands me 30,000 yen ($300) and I hand him the motorcycle keys. Yay! I hope he doesn't kill himself.

I did pay 30,000 yen for the damn thing didn't i? I didn't lose money on the deal did I? Oh crap.

I go back to my apartment and call Catherine - another new girl on the JET Programme who seems to like me (she was not mentioned in the diatribe up above). I know... how do I feel down about my wonderful rife when I have women throwing themselves at me?

 We chat until 1:30AM - and wow does she sound hot to trot. 

What does she look like again?

Somewhere trying to remember,
Andrew Joseph
Today's blog title is by The Doors: HELLO!
PS: Crap! I bought the damn motorcycle for 35,000 yen ($350). I lost 500 yen ($50) on this deal! Man... I need to get some real sleep. Maybe tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Japan To Roast Beef

On Tuesday, July 26, 2011, Japan revealed a plan to deal with beef contaminated by radiation leaked into the air from the near meltdown at the Dai-ichi (Big One) nuclear facility in Fukushima-ken (Fukushima Prefecture).

The plan calls for the government to purchase all the tainted beef and then burn it in an effort to regain consumer confidence.

At this time, it is thought that some 3,000 cattle are contaminated with radioactive Cesium after being fed straw exposed to the radiation--and these cattle have been shipped across Japan after being processed for human consumption.

Kano Michihiko, Japan's Minister of Agriculture says that the nuclear plant owner and operator, TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) will have to foot the bill, estimated at 2-billion yen ($25-million).

And that's no bull.

Files by Andrew Joseph
PS: Regular life of gaijin story to appear in 10 hours. Sorry... I left it at work!
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