Tarako song and dance

There is a company in Japan called キューピー “Cupie” which makes a mayonnaise. The image character for this mayonnaise… is TARAKO (たらこ).

Note, if you check the Tarako webpage the Tarako image characters will appear to close in on you, back you into a corner, and follow your mouse around the screen. Do not panic. No harm will come to you.

Tarako is a pod-like red thing with an eerie cute baby face.

If you ask me, Tarako looks like something that would appear in a psychedelic nightmare after studying a bit too much Kanji in one day.

To make it worse…

This song and video on YouTube is the promotion video for Tarako.

The song sounds like it should be in a Tim Burton movie. Happy… Yet… Some how creepy and forboding… If you can understand the lyrics. Please read them. In fact. I’m going to post the translation soon.

Memorize them, and sing the theme song while walking down the street to amaze (and probably creep out) Japanese around you.

I’m sure this song is also available in Karaoke booths, so practice and bust a move!

If you can memorize the dance… Impressive.

Most Impressive…

Ominous even.

You can download you Tarako wallpaper here. I’m using it. You should too. If you haven’t had enough, there are more Tarako commercials available on the official website as well.

– Harvey

[tags]Tarako, Japan[/tags]

Japanese Mind Games

Looking for a place to stay in Kyoto?

Welcome to MIND GAMES pension.

A Bambi cake set for 500 yen.



The Mind Games begin before you step in the door.

I want to meet the owners and ask how they came up with the name.

– Harvey

Beer Dumping Wedding

At parties in Japan, there is a cultural tradition to pour beer for others.

This cultural habit is not only observable during company drinking parties, match making compa’s, or large wedding parties, but it pretty much happens anywhere there is a bottle of alcohol and more than one person drinking.

There is a saying that if you pour your own beer, you won’t be a success in life (or get a promotion at your company).

Anyway, during wedding parties in Japan, the beer drinking tradition is in full force. As a guest you are expected at some point to pick up a bottle and pour a tall cold one for the parents of the bride and groom, the office manager of the groom who gave a speech at the wedding, and of course, for the bride and groom themselves.

Japanese wedding parties can become fairly large, with guests usually numbering over 50. You can imagine that lot of beer makes its way over to the bride and groom.

[Stating the obvious] Not all Japanese are strong drinkers.

5 beers would make many a Japanese red in the face.
So what do you do with all that beer? Also, your glass needs to be at least partly empty for when the next guest comes by with the bottle, or it would be rude. Where are they going to pour your beer?

So now we come to the poorly shot picture. See that metal can at the grooms feet? This can is provided specifically for the groom to discretely empty his beer glasses into, so he can continue to accept more booze from all the grateful guests.

Pouring beer directly into the trash! Come on!

There was a gag about this beer pouring tradition in action in the Ramenz sushi shop video posted earlier! おっととと。まあまあまあまあ。
– Harvey

Not so useful Japanese Lesson 1 – Abduct

A verb which can means “abduct” in Japanese is, SARAU.

Hiragana: さらう

Kanji: 浚う

If you ask a Japanese person to write the kanji for this verb for you 「浚 」, chances are they won’t be able to. The character is not used often enough for people to remember how to write. Japanese is funny like that.
If you check our favorite online dictionary, ALC. You can get an excellent example sentence.

  • 女性を浚う悪鬼
  • maiden-abducting goblin

Excellent. “Jyosei wo sarau akki.”

Now you can say “maiden-abducting goblin” in Japanese.

Disclaimer: There are in fact other words for “abduct” or “kidnap” in Japanese that are in fact used often. Sadly, much too often given the proximity of Japan to North Korea.

Stay tuned for another useless language lesson.

– Harvey

North Korean News

For some reason, the KCNA official website which publicizes news for North Korea, is hosted in Japan.

Why is this?

On this site you can read what’s “really” going on in the Korean crisis, straight from the secret state itself.

An except from news published October. 18. 2006 Juche 95 (explanation  of the Juche calendar – basically, the birth of Dear Leader Kim Il Sung is year 1) .

DPRK Foreign Ministry Spokesman Totally Refutes UNSC “Resolution”

…The successful nuclear test in the DPRK was an exercise of its independent and legitimate right as a sovereign state as it was a positive defensive countermeasure to protect the sovereignty of the country and life and security of the people from the U.S. escalated nuclear war threat and sanctions and pressure…

…The nuclear test in the DPRK was a great deed that greatly contributed to defending peace and stability not only on the Korean Peninsula but in the rest of Northeast Asia as it demonstrated powerful deterrent for coping with the U.S. nuclear threat and blackmail and foiling its attempt to ignite a new war…

…The DPRK had remained unfazed in any storm and stress in the past when it had no nuclear weapons. It is quite nonsensical to expect the DPRK to yield to the pressure and threat of someone at this time when it has become a nuclear weapons state…

There you have it.

The official website does not have a search function, and it is a pain to dig through the archives. A NK news buff and skilled programmer has created a website, nk-news.net, which archives and sorts all of the news from the official website.

As if that wasn’t fun enough… You can even search by keywords.
Now, because of the incredibly filtered, and controlled nature of the media released from NK, this keyword search is extremely interesting.

For example… Check their suggested searches. The phrase “bitterer hatred” shows up quite often. And, looking at the search results, seems to be commonly pointed at Japan.

The Japanese reactionaries are persistently raising a hue and cry over the abduction issue hardly comparable with the monstrous crimes committed by Japan against the Korean nation in the past. This frantic ruckus of confrontation with the DPRK only triggers off bitterer hatred of its army and people toward Japan.


Check out the nknews hall of fame. Read the article entitled ”Mr. Roh, tear down this wall!” about the giant concrete wall separating North and South Korea… which doesn’t exist.

– Harvey

Rabbits on the Moon

In the states, we say that the shadows on the moon look like the face of a man.

In Japan, they say the same shadows are rabbits who live on the moon making mochi (pounded rice cake).

You know how the character “Sailor Moon” has the name Usagi? Usagi means rabbit in Japanese, and well, she’s Sailor MOON.

Mere coincidence?

I think not…

– Harvey

Blood Type Online Test

As you may have heard, in Japan a person’s blood type is said to say a lot about their personality.

There is a short online personality test you can take to check if the test results match your actual blood type. I have roughly translated the test questions into English below if you want to try.

Here are my results! I’m type A.

This English website explains the general characteristics for each blood type briefly.

This Japanese website explains the characteristics of the different blood types in detail. It describes the personality each blood type provides for boys and girls. The site describes character traits and and life views in categories such as work, spending habits, love, sex, marriage, and general character.

Blood Type Test Questions!
In the right hand columns, the radio button on the left is YES (true) and radio button on the right is NO (false). Once you finish, click the button on the left (結果) at the bottom of the page to get your results.

1. Are you outgoing?
2. Do you care about your past behavior?
3. In a discussion with multiple people, do you usually end up summarizing the situation for everyone?
4. Are you usually on time?
5. You don’t think about thinks deeply.
6. You’re “cool”, as in, relaxed and not overly excitable.
7. The end result is important, but the process is also important.
8. You don’t show your emotions easily.
9. You think realistically.
10. You are gentle, quiet, calm.
11. Sometimes you think of yourself as a great, excellent person.
12. You are one to follow the rules.
13. You are one to strictly follow the rules.
14. You tend to have a strong, narrow enthusiasm for one thing.
15. You are a confident person.
16. You enjoy a conversation with only your close friends.
17. You can do a simple task for long periods of time without getting bored.
18. Other people can easily understand your personality.

North Korean Spy Boat in Yokohama Museum

This is rather timely…

In the Yokohama Bay Area there is a Japan Coast Guard Museum. The main attraction is a North Korean Spy Boat which was sunk December 22, 2001 by the Japan Coast Guard near Kyusyu.

The recovered spy boat and it’s contents are really the only items on display in the museum. You can get up close and personal to examine the bullet holes, and view gear the spies had on board such as machine guns and rocket launchers. Video footage recorded by the crew of the coast guard during the incident is also on display.

Similar video is also available of the Korean spy boat encounter on YouTube.

The museum is free of charge, and easily accessible from Minato Mirai in Yokohama, so if you are in the area it’s worth a visit.

A quick breakdown of the encounter as it happened follows.

A suspicious unknown ship was discovered south west of Kyusyu at 1:10 AM on December 12th 2001. Orders were sent for a patrol boat and air support from the Japanese coast guard to investigate.

At 6:20 AM the coast guard patrol boat arrived on the scene and began to follow the unknown ship. The boat appeared to be a fishing boat, however there was no smoke coming from the chimney, and other suspicious issues regarding the boats behavior tipped the coast guard off that it may be a spy boat.

At 13:12 the coast guard gave repeated orders in several languages (I remember Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and English from the video tape in the museum) for the unknown vessel to halt and identify itself. The commands were ignored, and the coast guard proceeded to fire warning shots into the air, and into the surface of the water near the boat. These warnings were also ignored.

Next, the coast guard proceeded according to protocol and fired controlled shots at the spy boat. These initial shots are not meant to disable the boat or injure any crew. Therefore the shots were aimed at the tail, and head of the boat, places where crew and vital equipment are not likely to be located. Also, before firing, a verbal warning including the intent to shoot, and the location the shots would be aimed was given, and ample time allowed for the enemy boats crew to get out of harms way, or surrender if they should desire.

Once the shots commenced, the crew of the spy boat began waving what appeared to be a red Chinese flag, and tried to give the appearance of a Chinese boat (I don’t know how one can “give the appearance of a Chinese boat…” Just translating from the museum hand out!). Also, during this time some items, likely evidence of the spy boats intent, were thrown off the back of the boat.

All of this continued until 22:09. Then the Japanese Coast Guard boat attempted to maneuver to better cut off the spy boats retreat, and the spy boat suddenly opened fire with a small automatic weapon.

After receiving damaging fire from the spy boat, the Japanese boat returned fire with intent to incapacitate the enemy vessel. Within 3 minutes of opening fire, the spy boat suffered a large explosion, from what appeared to be a self-destruct device, and began sinking rapidly.

The self-destruct control box.

Items from the North Korean spy boat
Pin of our Dear Leader

Peanut Candy (spies gotta eat!)

Note it’s produce at Ryongsong factory in Pyongyang Korea. Authentic!

The museum is free of charge. It is closed on Mondays. If you are in the Yokohama area it’s worth a visit!

Other pictures

Here is a Japanese website with more pictures of items which were on the boat.

– Harvey

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