Here’s a nice story I spotted on Japan Probe today: Elementary schoolers watch whalemeat processing.
Clutching a notebook and a pencil, Yuna and her classmates occupied the front row of the crowd Wednesday, bending forward to watch a 10-metre (33-foot) animal — the town’s first catch of the three-month season — be dismembered.
“Look! That’s her heart!” Yuna said to her friends with her face half covered by her hand. “Oh no, so much blood is gushing out.” LINK
Which totally reminded me of this old strip from the Perry Bible Fellowship: The Golden Ticket.
I went to see Indiana Jones at the weekend. “I’ll probably cry at the end – it being the last one.” I joked, just before going in. And then right at the end, as the stirring strains of the Indiana Jones theme started up for the last time and Harrison Ford seized his hat from “Junior”‘s hands before striding out the church, and because you know there is, and can only be, one Indy Jones to wear that hat or crack that whip, I felt little pin-pricks of moisture spring to my eyes and trickle down my cheeks. I enjoyed the movie (although it did have some incredibly silly moments). I don’t think it’s as good as the earlier Indiana Jones movies but it’s still a good addition to the series and I enjoyed it.
Then last night I was watching the penultimate Doctor Who of this series and it does look an awful lot like the Doctor is regenerating. But then, there’s no word on the net (nothing I can find anyway) about David Tennant quitting or anyone else taking over the role so… is he? A shame if Tennant does quit, because he’s a good Doctor. That and as the last two Doctors have been really good, I’m afraid the next one will be a Colin Baker type or even worse… a Sylvester McCoy. Eek. By the way, never watch Doctor Who just before going to sleep. I had the Doctor and Indiana Jones running through some very vivid dreams last night and woke up completely exhausted this morning.
Here’s the latest song from Michael Franti. Not one of his best but still Michael Franti, so who cares?
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The Sun Always Shines On Your Greens
There’s yet another post up on Deep Kyoto tonight of vegan & organic restaurant Hale ～晴れ～ which means “sunny”. Hmm. I’m sensing a trend for “sunny” organic restaurants here; Sunny Place, Sunshine Cafe…Now here’s a bunch of Japan related links so I can avoid actually writing anything.
Burakumin Photographs by Masaru Goto
http://www.globalcompassion.com/ has an exhibition of photos by Masaru Goto of Burakumin:
The Burakumin are a nearly invisible (yet identifiable) group of Japanese people. They are the remnant of a caste system that formally passed away long ago. Their ancestors were the untouchables. Despite being racially and ethnically Japanese through and through, the Burakumin still face discrimination and struggle together under the weight of their shared history. (Quoted from globalcompassion.com)
The photographs, a series of portraits, are colorful and reveal a remarkable zest for life in each of the participants (like the guy who says he wants to die shouting “Whoo!”). Each picture is followed by a short account of each persons experiences. I found bamboo artisan Keigin Ishida’s story of his relationship with his father especially touching. LINK TO MASARU GOTO’S EXHIBITION
Whale Meat SCANDAL!!!
Recently, Greenpeace have been making a big hullabaloo about Japanese whalers filching whale meat at the tax-payers expense. Now the news has gone global. Here’s a link to the BBC article: LINK And here’s what Greenpeace have to say about it:
We did it! Within 72 hours of our exposé of corruption in the whaling industry and embezzlement of whale meat, 40,000 Greenpeace supporters wrote to Japanese officials demanding an investigation.Despite denials from the company that runs the whaling ship that the stolen whale meat was just “souvenirs” the Tokyo public prosecutor’s office agreed there were grounds for an investigation. It’s working!
By law, the sale of whale meat outside the official “scientific whaling” programmme is not supposed to happen — all proceeds are supposed to offset the taxpayer-subsidized whaling. This means the entire whaling programme is illegal and needs to have its permits revoked and subsidies cancelled — let’s get 80,000 messages in the NEXT 72 hours demanding that! LINK TO GREENPEACE CAMPAIGN
Don’t Read This if You’re Eating
I wonder why it is, that despite broadly agreeing with pretty much everything Greenpeace stands for, I find myself increasingly irritated by them and reluctant to post links to their campaigns. Ah, I know. It’s because of ridiculous videos like this. What genius came up with the idea of “average Joe vomiting off the back of a ship” as a marketing campaign? How is that appealing? Really? Ah, oh well…
Speaking of vomit, this article isn’t particularly enlightening but the headline kind of grabbed me: 54 sickened at hospital after farmer’s chemical-fuelled vomit generates toxic gas. Wow, eh?
I just read this story about the 19th century harpoon fragment found in a recently killed whale and was pretty impressed. I had no idea whales could live that long. Apparently they can live to be up to 200 years old – if we don’t get them first. Here’s the link: Bowhead Whale Has Uncanny Sense of Deja Vu Immediately Prior to Bloody Death.
Malcolm Phelps has set up a group site for ex-Lado teachers and staff here: LADOTEACHERSANDSTAFF
Here is the final episode of Whale Love Wagon; quite a nice one today.
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Just got back from Kinosaki hot spring resort – and I’m tired. So for now here’s Whale Love 9 – this week in Okinawa.
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Here’s this week’s Whale Love Wagon, this week Yuki and the Spanish guy learn all about the importance of Antartica’s summer ice-melts to the world’s eco-system. Good stuff.
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There’s more information about that up at: くじらぶ
I’ve made some changes to the links at the side of the page, mainly to make it a bit more user friendly. Visitors to Kyoto can find some useful links in the aptly named “Kyoto Links” section. And I’ve provided back-links to all previous recommended restaurant postings. Enjoy!
Whales. You gotta love ’em.
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Dancing precariously on the sofa to “Johnny Appleseed” last night I tried to show off my strength by picking up something a bit heavy (Hyon Ju) and promptly pulled a calf muscle. What a berk. I’m quite quite hurty now. Anyway here’s a classic from the Clash. Very good sound on this:
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Right, short post today. I’ve been searching for a poem by Brecht called “The Song of the Moldau” or “Das Lied Von Der Moldau”, which I had in my wallet for years and years (inspirational you see) but for some reason can no longer locate, despite really really wanting to share it with you all… So if you know it and have a copy mail it to me eh? おねがいします！
Here’s this week’s “Whale Love Wagon” video. Quite interesting actually; this nice old geezer was a whale harpoonist back in the 1950s but now in his 70s he has found a new career involving whales and he kindly shares his memories and feelings with us all. I do like nice old geezers.
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I was reading Neil Gaiman’s journal today. You come across interesting things when you read Neil Gaiman’s journal. For instance, today he talked about how librarians up and down America were refusing to stock an award-winning children’s book that made mention of (HORROR OF HORRORS!) a dog’s scrotum. Quite rightly, Neil Gaiman was dismayed by this. I am too. I mean, what are we doing? Pretending dogs have no balls? Like kids don’t know? Recently I found myself bowdlerizing “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen so I could use it in the classroom. I actually changed the words “sex machine” to “six machine”. Ridiculous right? But I didn’t do this because I wanted to protect the innocent wards in my care. I know they know sex exists, they talk about it and think about it all time (they’re 14 – that’s probably all they think about). It was the adults I was worried about; the parents and the teachers who can’t handle the idea of being honest and forthright about this kind of thing in front of children (which is far healthier to my mind) and would probably give me a very hard time about it. Seems pretty immature to me to be honest, but as a foreigner, on a one-year part-time contract, I’m in no position to buck the system. Once a student asked me to use Avril Lavigne’s “Don’t Tell Me” in class. I’m not a big fan of Lavigne’s (let me assure you), but “whatever works”, you know. If the students like it they will learn. Anyway, the song is basically about a girl who is telling her boyfriend to clear off because all he wants to do is get in her pants (so you know, probably a good message, right? “Girls be strong! Be assertive! Don’t be pressured into doing that-kind-o’-thing before you’re ready!”- type of message, right?). I thought I would have a crack at translating it, but when I asked a Japanese teacher to check my translation he seemed perturbed.
What does “it” refer to in this sentence? he asked me
I’m guessing sex. I said. But before I had a chance to explain futher:
Sex!? No! No! Not sex! Not sex to junior high school students! No way! etc…
The mere mention of sex (never explicitly mentioned in the song) had him in paroxysms! I mean, I can understand my aged Irish-Catholic parents having weird puritanical attitudes, but you know, they are from a different era. We live in the 21st century now. Why can’t we just be honest and take all the mystery (and the associated sniggering and the misinformation and the hang-ups, and the FEAR) away? Then kids would have a more mature understanding of things… And I think we would too.
Here’s something else I found on Neil Gaiman’s super site. It’s art that you can play with. Basically collages of old 19th century prints, that you can click and effect weird changes upon. If you click on it in the right sequence you discover the next tableaux: CLICK TO ENJOY!
Here’s this week’s “Whale-Love” video. This week, Yuki and the token foreigner meet up with Mr. Nagaoka who was a whale harpoonist back in the 50s and who looks fantastic for his age. (Must be all that whale meat keeping him young…)
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It’s official. Youtube has gone over to the dark side. Since Google took over I’ve been reading about these insidious changes going on. About the major record companies demanding that youtube remove copyrighted material etc. But it didn’t hit home until I realised today that over half the music videos I’ve posted on this blog are no longer available. Including one I posted but 11 days ago! Tell me what harm does it do to have say a “TalkTalk” video from 1986, that can no longer be seen anywhere else, freely available on the internet where people can find it and might possibly think: “Ooh, I like that. Maybe I’ll click over to amazon and buy the record…” Hmm? STOOPID! My good friend Rik Abel recently wrote on his blog about Youtube plans to give video makers a share of ad-revenue: “w00t! Revver has been offering ad revenue share for quite a while, but this is exciting news cos like YouTube is obviously the 800lb gorilla and it’s high time they decided to ‘reward creativity’. ”
I beg to differ Rik! It’s another sign of the crass commercialization that has irrevocably swallowed up the sweet naivete of the original youtube ideal! There was a place for that – it was Revver. Youtube was a place free from that, that horrible money-stuff. Ach! No more! No more!
But all things must pass.
Here’s a pic of my Valentine’s present from the lady that knows me best:Now, a few days ago “anonymous” wrote:
The healthy, veg-friendly restaurants are good and all, don’t get me wrong, but aren’t there any Indian restaurants with a nice little 3-curry buffet you could introduce us to?
I’m not sure, but I’m assuming “anonymous” is my old curry-chomping chum Greg Ionson back in Tokyo (man that guy could eat curry!). Well, I’m hoping these pictures from tonight’s repast at Didi’s make him happy. For your delectation: vegetable curry:
Chapatti and hummus…
(Update: I have since learned that DIDI’S has rats! I saw one myself! Don’t go there!)
I was in town meeting someone intelligent today (which was quite refreshing) so on my way home I stopped by Houzouji (寶蔵寺) for this month’s meditation:I’m not sure how to translate this one. It’s the last part that’s throwing me, along with the grammar…
After chatting with the staff at Didi’s (aforementioned curry emporium) about it, I’m thinking something like this:
In the world of men
happiness or sorrow
is but strange chance
live for good encounters
However some of the words there have a deeper significance than my simple interpretation conveys. 縁 (“en”) for example, can be chance, fate, coincidence… It is often used to suggest some kind of karmic bond. So you can say “___と縁がある” to say that you have some deep fated connection to a place or person. I asked the waitress in Didi’s why “deai” or encounter was written with the kanji 合 (to suit or fit) rather than the more usual 会 (meeting) and she thought it might be because although “shiawase” or “happiness” is usually written like this: 幸せ, it can also be written like this 仕合わせ. At that point my mind really began to boggle… so if any of you have any better explanation for it do let me know. And that final “を” I’m not sure how best to put in English, but I thought “live for” as in “do your best for…” was good enough…?Enough of that! Here’s this week’s “Whale-Love-Wagon” featuring the classic question: “So when you were rescuing the whale, weren’t any of you really thinking: Um looks tasty… Let’s eat that! ?”
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Now that’s all very lovey-dovey and nice, but it doesn’t really tell me what I want to know. According to the info up here the Japanese Government plans to hunt 945 whales this year, despite already having a thousand whales’ worth of meat in stockpiles that they can’t get rid of. So… why? If whale-meat is not such a popular dish in Japan… why does Japan persist in hunting whales? There must be a reason. What’s the reason? I really would like to know. It can’t be just sheer bloody-mindedness, can it now?
Anyway, there’s a campaign up here that you can join in, if you feel so inclined: CLICK ME!!!