Posts Tagged ‘Nutters’

Japan-related Links of the Week: 22 May 2010

Posted 22 May 2010 — by Andy in Tokyo
Category Japan, Links of the Week, News, Only in Japan, Tokyo

A roundup of some of the best Japan-related links from this week.

The [Yokohama branch of the Japan Teachers’ Union] said the textbooks made by right-wing groups contain many inaccuracies, including the Japanese government’s attempt to legitimize the country’s past aggression in Asia.

Japanese Teachers’ Union Boycotts Right-wing Textbook
The Dong-a Ilbo


A Japanese man has been detained by police after scattering tens of thousands of pounds’ worth of banknotes across a busy highway in Japan.

Japanese man arrested for throwing £20,000 onto highway
The Daily Telegraph (Danielle Demetriou)


Hiromu Nonaka, a former chief cabinet secretary, revealed last month that from 1998-99 he spent up to ¥70m ($600,000 at the exchange rate of the time) a month from his secret little piggy bank.

A slush fund is revealed in Japan: See no evil
The Economist (Banyan’s column)


“The amount of money a Chinese person is spending [in Japanese department stores] is incomparable to that of a Japanese customer.”

Chinese invasion offers a ray of hope to tourist trade
The Asahi Shimbun


The Japanese economy grew at a healthy clip of 1.2 percent in the first quarter, the government said on Thursday, hinting that Japan’s recovery from a crippling recession was finally gathering momentum.

Figures Suggest Japan’s Recovery Is Gaining Strength
The New York Times (Hiroko Tabuchi)

Office Life in Tokyo

Posted 03 Feb 2010 — by Andy in Tokyo
Category Only in Japan, Tokyo, Work

I’ve spent three years working in the same office, sat at the same desk, seeing the same salarymen day-in, day-out. I still don’t know who everyone is (four hundred people = a lot of names), but I have managed to come up with plenty of nicknames for the most peculiar individuals:

Man Child
This fellow has the head and voice of a man, but the body of a child. His head is absolutely massive: the fact that his neck can support it defies all the laws of physics. He also spends far too long in the toilet, rustling the tissue paper a little bit too vigorously.

The Womble
A sixty-something mumbler with all the speed and grace of a sloth. He has no internal monologue and spends considerable time saying ‘unnnn, sou ka’ (‘ahh, I see’) to inanimate objects. His job is to… well, to be quite honest, I have no idea what his job is. He spends much of the day wandering between floors with a small bag, occasionally picking bits of dust of the floor.

Named after Family Guy’s evil toddler, pint-sized Stewie seems far too small to be at work; he should still be at infant school! He sits at his big boys’ desk all day, his little legs dangling off the chair, issuing commands down the phone like Napoleon’s younger brother.

Bill Gates
Nothing much to say about this chap, apart from that he is the spitting image of Bill Gates (if Bill Gates was Japanese).

The Fifth Beatle
Long straggly hair, enormous Bose headphones and a ‘God you’re so unfair, I hate you!’ teenage pout. He also seems to be something of a hypochondriac, and spends a good portion of his day gargling antiseptic mouthwash in front of the bathroom mirror.

The Weasel
A fifty-year-old silver-haired weasel who is terrified of his computer. Every time he sits in front of it his face contorts into a picture of abject horror, as if he’s watching a streaming video of an Al-Qaida hostage being beheaded. Perhaps someone told him that if you click the mouse buttons too hard the whole internet breaks, so he’s being extra careful.

Do you remember Danger Mouse? (If you don’t, go here.) This guy is the spitting image of Penfold, right down to the glasses and hair (or lack of). The only thing missing is the occasional ‘Cripes, DM!’.

Daily Tokyo Occurrence 1: The Street Sloth

Posted 28 Apr 2009 — by Andy in Tokyo
Category Only in Japan, Tokyo


The Street Sloth is a particularly widespread pest. It is native to Tokyo, but has now spread throughout Japan, and can even be found in some of the world’s major cities during the summer migratory period. This heel-clad monstrosity walks along pavements in a zigzag fashion, blocking the progress of anyone who would like to get to work before Christmas.

The Street Sloth has an ingenious method for killing its prey: it will walk in a straight line for a brief period, luring would-be overtakers into a false sense of security, before suddenly lunging “accidentally” into their way, forcing them into the path of an oncoming heavy-goods vehicle. It then feasts on the corpse, taking only the poor victim’s mobile phone strap as a memento of its kill.

The Train Warrior

Posted 01 Oct 2006 — by Andy in Tokyo
Category Only in Japan, Tokyo, Travel, Work

Obaasan WarriorOn Wednesday I witnessed my first ever train fight, although it turned out to be somewhat different from how I imagined; which was something along the lines of two guys going at it using finely-tuned ju-jitsu techniques to defend the honour of their briefcases and ¥300 neckties. But anyway, allow me to indulge you…

As per usual Ayako and myself had managed to get a seat on the train (our station is the first stop, so it’s just a matter of waiting for the next train to arrive and then legging it on board to get a seat), and I was trying not to fall asleep. Ayako has to change trains a couple of stops before me, and after she and a few others disembarked all hell broke loose:

A middle aged woman had been patiently waiting to board the train and was first in line to get on, but!… behind her stood a complete tosser of a guy – no older than thirty, typical junior salaryman suit and demeanour – who was absolutely determined to get a seat, AT ANY COST.

Middle Aged Woman sensed the presence of a challenger as she boarded the train, and spied a free seat opposite my position. Junior Salaryman leapt onto the train, side-stepping Middle Aged Woman in an attempt to sit down first. Unfortunately both of them went for exactly the same seat, at the same time, which looked a lot like two highly competitive eight year olds playing musical chairs.

Middle Aged Woman had clearly had enough of dickheads pushing in front of her and, quick as a flash, stood up and elbowed the guy in the head. And when I say elbowed, I don’t mean in a “oh I’m so sorry” kind of way, this was a professional, advanced street fighting-style manouvre. Junior Salaryman looked, well, pretty shocked to say the least, but before he had a chance to say anything Middle Aged Woman decided to give him a few punches to the temple. Junior Salaryman’s legs flicked up in an attempt to shield himself from the blows, while all I could do was stare gormlessly at the two of them (well, what was I supposed to do?).

Eventually an older guy came and broke it up. Amazingly it was Middle Aged Woman who moved to a different carriage. Junior Salaryman, after rearranging his now deshevelled suit, pretended to sleep for the rest of the journey. I wanted to ask “how does it feel to be decked by a grandma?”, but my Japanese skills don’t stretch that far.

So, let that be a warning to you. When in Japan, DO NOT MESS WITH THE OLD WOMEN.

Hitting the izakaya

Posted 25 Aug 2006 — by Andy in Tokyo
Category Only in Japan, Tokyo

These days drinking is painful. Admittedly, for me it’s always been painful, and my morning-after hangover became something of a legend in my uni days. But now it takes me, on average, three million years to fully recover.

Last night then, I met up with some of my students for a drinking “party”. I’m not sure if calling it a party is really justified, but my students all seemed to think so, so I’ll let it stand. We had a two hour all-you-can-drink reservation at one of my local izakayas. Can you imagine a pub back home doing the same kind of thing? Nope, didn’t think so; there’d be no booze left after the first hour. I’ve been party to an all-you-can-drink session with my fellow Brits on several occasions since I’ve been here, and I am proud to say the system was well and truly abused. Nice!

Japanese people – the salaryman hardcore excluded – are pretty light drinkers on the whole, so one beer left half of my students looking somewhat… radient, about the face. My Japanese has suffered a relapse since coming back, but a few drinks seemed to help loads, and we had no awkward silences (which happens a LOT here. If awkward silences turn you on, then this is the place for you). I always feel responsible for them, seeing as they’re my students, but thankfully no one spewed over the table or collapsed in the toilet (that’s usually my job anyway). After we got chucked out of the izakaya we went for a wander down to the park – suprisingly busy considering it was 10pm, I suspect there were a lot more “couplings” going behind the trees an’ all – they all went off to do karaoke, but as I didn’t want to incur the wrath of my wife I sauntered home through the back streets.

Today I’ve not been feeling to great, for obvious reasons, but had some stuff to do around the shops and hauled my carcass out of bed and into town. I happened to be walking behind a seemingly ordinary, middle-aged man on my way towards the station. He was carrying two large carriers from an expensive import foods supermarket. “Maybe he’s going to cook sommat special for his wife tonight?”, I thought. But then, without any word of warning, he makes a sideways glance at an innocent, unsuspecting vending machine and… kicks the living shit out of it! It was the kind of sudden, unexpected outburst of rage that leaves your brain saying to itself “err… I have no prior information on how to handle this situation, so you’ll just have to stand there and look gormless”. Which is exactly what I did.

Luckily, the lunatic didn’t spot me, or maybe he did but couldn’t give a toss. Anyway, rather than finding another, less dangerous route to the station, I thought I’d keep following and see if anything else happened. No less than two more vending machines got the kicking treatment before I lost sight of him. God knows how many electrcial appliances will die by his hands tonight.