Thursday, May 26, 2005

Slow news day

Right now on NHK News, they're running a feature story on the Queen rock musical "We Will Rock You," a production of which will soon open a three-month run at Shinjuku Kome Theater in Tokyo. This area of Tokyo used to be well-known for more. . . illicit. . . entertainments, but recent crackdowns on such things have reduced traffic through the area. Area officials are hoping that the show will bring back tourists, and change the reputation of the area.

The report showed many small business owners and others volunteering to help promote the show. Many people echoed the hopes for renewed visitors. However, NHK saw fit to show three local workers who dissented, saying that one show shouldn't change anything, and bemoaning the fact that the powers-that-be were trying to force a change in reputation.

I thought it kind of interesting that the three dissenters that NHK chose to show were transvestites with bad teeth...

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Firebrand British member of Parliament hands Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) his ass - Politics - British Lawmaker to Congress: Back Off
Click on the video link, then "Galloway Defiant Before Panel."

Galloway explains in no uncertain terms that the evidence that supposedly links him to the "Oil-for-Food scandal" has been shown to be fabricated. He goes on to assert that this whole scandal is a smokescreen designed to distract from the United States' own misdeeds along the same lines.

Kind of fun to watch, really. I got the impression that at times Mr. Galloway is making efforts to talk slowly, as to a little child who refuses to understand...

Here's another link: The BBC has a longer video clip, starting with Norm Coleman giving a lengthy (six minute) outline of the allegations against George Galloway.

From the BBC article: 'Mr Galloway went on the offensive from the start of his testimony, saying the committee had "traduced" his name around the world without asking him a single question.

He told committee chairman Senator Norm Coleman: "I know that standards have slipped over the last few years in Washington but for a lawyer you are remarkably cavalier with any idea of justice."'

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Osaka Castle

I went to Osaka on May 1, and stayed until the third. I didn't have a set agenda in mind, but I did know that I wanted to see the castle.

I visited Osaka Castle on the second, which turned out to be a fortuitous choice. The holidays of Golden Week are April 29 (みどりの日, Green day), May 3 (憲法記念日, Constitution Day), and May 5 (こどもの日, Children's Day). There's also a "National Holiday" (国民の休日) on May 4. Because May 2 isn't an official holiday, many people had to work, and school was in session, so it wasn't very crowded.

Osaka Castle is unique among the castles I've seen in Japan, in that the interior is completely modernized. The other castles I've visited (Himeji, Nijo, and Matsue) were restored or rebuilt using the building materials of the time of their original construction, i.e. wood. The interiors were dimly lit, and stairwells were very steep. (Castle towers were not everyday living spaces. During times of siege and assault, the people living in the castle grounds would retreat to the tower, and the stairwells were built in such a way as to hinder attackers. Kind of silly, really, considering that castles were made of wood, and attackers could -- and did -- just set fire to them.)

Osaka Castle, on the other hand, was rebuilt from scratch in 1931. Designed as a museum, the exterior is authentic to the appearance of castle towers of the Warring-States Era, but it is built of steel-framed reinforced concrete. The interior is brightly lit, and the stairs are easily manageable. And, if you are sick and tired of stairs (as I often was on trips like this), there's an elevator that you can take to the top.

Most castles I've seen have a small Shinto shrine on the top floor. Osaka castle has a gift shop.

This is a picture of Osaka Castle Park from the top floor of Osaka Castle. In the foreground, you can see a kin no shachi-gawara (金の鯱瓦), a mythical carp-like fish said to bring good fortune. The big domed building in the background is the Osaka Castle Hall. (Jonny Rasmussen remembers watching U2 there many years ago.)

つづく (to be continued...)

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The Downside of Globalization

Showing right now on FUJI TV: a promo for an upcoming special -- WWF Smackdown.




Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Just got back from Osaka...

It's Golden Week, and I took advantage of the time off to spend a couple of days in Osaka. Verrrry interesting. As soon as I get the photos uploaded, I'll say more.

Random observations: Lots of iPod users. More foreigners than I've seen in a while. Random shopkeepers expect me to be fluent in Japanese.

Things I hadn't seen in a while (that I was VERY happy to see again): Wendy's. Subway Sandwich shops.

Hard Rock Cafe -- and a chimichanga. mmmMMMMMM....