Voice Play in Kobe 7th and 8th

Anyone in Kobe looking for something to do on the 7th or 8th, listen up!

The Voice, a play group in Kobe is doing their annual summer gig on the 7th, and 8th. Ticket are only 2000 yen for an adult and the money goes to charity.

I went to their act a few years ago during my first Osaka stint, and had a lot of fun. The plays are all in English, and the actors are a mix of super-gaijin and super-nihonjin.

You won’t feel energy like this on the commuter trains that’s for sure!

Details on their website, but here is the skinny!  I am not an actor.


presents “Murders and Mysteries”, a set of six one-act plays with a murder mystery musical between acts, featuring the music of “Queen” July 7 (Sat.) 7:00 pm, July 8 (Sun.) 1:00 pm & 5:30 pm.

at Theater Pochette, Kitano-cho, Kobe (see website for map)

Admission 2000 yen (adults), 1500 yen (students) Proceeds donated to charity.

– Harvey

Gaijin interview with gyaru

Well. Gyaru theme. Here is a gaijin interview with some high-powered gyaru called, “Harajuku High School Girls Gone Bad“. Maybe you could even call them ganguro. They’re not really “bad” though.

The guy can speak Japanese, props! Though I don’t think he should have introduced the girls names using「これは」。Ah well :-)

The commentary is all overly dramatic, but at least you get to see some real gyaru.

I’ve been here 5 years and have rarely talked to these types.

Maybe I’m old.

This creeps me out.

– Harvey

Japanese Talents: Gyaru Sone

I don’t follow many Japanese talents… But one that caught my eye a while ago was ギャル曽根さん (gyaru sone-san). Her full name is Natsuko Sone.

She’s famous because she can eat a ton. In fact. She’s pro.

6kg of curry in 23 minutes.

That’s what I’m talkin’ about.

Go Sone go!

Check out Gyaru Sone-san’s wiki in English, Japanese, and also check out her Gyaru Blog which states, “Let’s eat all our meals without leaving a bit.” (ごはんは残さず食べましょう)

– Harvey

Yokohama Ramen Ichirokuya

There are as many styles of ramen in Japan as there are pizza in the US.

Speaking of pizza, I really miss US “Taco Pizza”, not octopus tako, I mean Americanized-Mexican taco. Anyone here know the Godfathers Pizza chain? Their taco pizza has these Dorrito-esque chips on top, piled high… Yummy soft thick crust… I love it.

Anyway, I’m still in Japan. Let’s get back to Ramen.

This restaurant is called Ichirokuya and is a chain that originated in Yokohama but can be found all over Japan.

The ramen here has a thick, almost butter broth.

It fills you up.

You’ll taste it the next morning when you wake up.

This was definitely a unique ramen experience, but I can’t say I would go out of my way to visit again. I guess I’m more into the thin, あっさり type of ramen broth.

Hey, my camera is workin’ the macro on that close-up shot though isn’t it?

– Harvey

Yokohama Yoshimuraya Ramen

It’s ramen time again!

I finally got a chance to check out Yoshimuraya in Yokohama. I ride my bike past this place on my way to and from school, and at night it seems to always have a long line in front.

That means it must be good right? (JapanThink)

You pick what kind of ramen you want before entering this place at a vending machine at the front door. The broth and noodles are all the same, but you can chose the size, and additional ingredients to add.

I chose “Stamina Yasai” (stamina vegetables), and a medium sized bowl.

The seating consists of one giant counter, and in the middle you can watch the employees doing their reckless ramen routine. The floor has a drain, so the employees wear rubber boots (can I say.. goulashes? I love that word!) and freely splash ramen soup all over the floor. It’s kind of fun to watch their haphazard style. It seems to get the job done though!

Another friend ordered a different type of Ramen, I believe it was cabbage… I’m guessing this from the giant chunks of cabbage sticking out of the ramen… That you can also see… Below… Yeah.

Fun place, good food, hefty volume, highly recommended!

– Harvey

Comfort Women Deniers take out Ads

Fearing that there may be Americans who are still unclear on the “historical facts”, Japan (Actually it seems to be paid for by 5 prominent right-wingers) placed an advertisement in the Washington Post on Thursday, making it clear that the issue of Comfort Women did not really occur as reported by… well… everyone else.

[Click for Larger, Readable Image]

Can you believe it? A full page advertisement! In the Washington Post! I mean, even the US uses propaganda… But this is flagrant.

The blog Ampontan covers this entire issue in detail, providing many informative links. Especially interesting is this interview with Shoichi Watanabe, a professor at Sophia University who claims that every single one of the pictures in The Rape of Nanking is fake.

In response, the US is seeking a resolution [IHT] that will demand that Japan, Prime Minister Abe, offer an official apology for the Imperial Army’s victims.

America is not exactly the most morally sound country on the planet either…

However, the thing that gets me most about this whole Comfort Women issue is that the Japanese media is such that many educated Japanese are unaware of the extent of the problem of denial. By the way, in Japanese the comfort women issue is known as, 「慰安婦問題」(ianfu mondai).

It’s hard to find Japanese who have any idea that this particular advertisement was published, and especially those who know that the US is considering a resolution demanding an apology. At least in the US we criticism of our government (especially today) is all over the place. When Bush says something a little off the wall, it’s all over the media (where the media = Comedy Central) What Japan needs is something like the “Daily Show” to keep the layman informed!

– Harvey

By the way, if you want to read about this advertisement in Japanese, there is an article available here. A Japanese friend told me that 産経新聞 (sankei shinbun) is basically the equivalent of Japan’s right wing propaganda newspaper. I’m sure she’s exaggerating, but I guess imagining something like Fox news in the US would be an appropriate comparison.

Rape of Nanking

I finally got around to reading The Rape of Nanking by Iris Chang.

One of the points that Chang stresses in this book is that knowledge of the events that occurred in 1937 in Nanking is terribly lacking amongst Americans. Personally, I had a general knowledge of the Nanking Massacre before moving to Japan, but only after living here and hearing about the East Asia protests (mainly China and Korea) during Koizumi’s visits to Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo was I prompted to learn more about the history on my own. That’s when I decided to finally read this book.

Does anyone here recall if they covered this specific event in their high school or university world history courses?

War is hell, but even so the Japanese army did an extreme number on Nanking.

Some historians estimate that more than 300,000 Chinese died in Nanking during the Japanese occupation. This is more than the atomic bomb victims in Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined. On the other hand, other historians/politicians, mainly Japanese, estimate that the Nanking massacre never happened, or that only a few thousand members of the Chinese military died in battle…

I have a much better understanding of the circumstances and details regarding this event now that I have read this book. It’s embarrassing to admit, but I did not know that the Chinese army in Nanking had already thrown down their arms and surrendered when the Japanese army marched in. There are also shocking images of Japanese newspapers published at the time that explain a race between two soldiers to see who could kill more Chinese the quickest. Intense.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Japanese history in the slightest.

You can learn more about the Nanking Massacre by reading The Rape of Nanking of course, but also use google, and read the Nanking Massacre wikipedia article.

If you can read Japanese, it’s interesting to compare the Amazon.com reader reviews of The Rape of Nanking to the reviews on Amazon.jp. The Japanese largely discount it as lies. In fact there is a popular book in Japanese called “Research of The Rape of Nanking: Methodologies and Strategies of Information Warfare in China” (my translation of the title) with the sole purpose of discounting The Rape of Nanking largely through denial of responsibility.

The Rape of Nanking itself has been translated into Chinese, but not Japanese. Apparently Chang had a disagreement with the Japanese publisher. The Japanese publisher wanted to only publish the book on the condition that it more than 90 “factual errors” first be corrected…

Of course, a book like this will always be controversial, especially from the point of view of the offending nation… All the more reason to read it.

– Harvey

Wings of Defeat

A documentary that includes interviews of actual Kamikaze attack pilot survivors has been released. The film is called Wings of Defeat and some info, including a trailer is available on that website. I would love to see this…

– Harvey

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