Monday, February 28, 2011

What I Like About Japan

What I Like About Japan

(Pictured: Yuki Uchida, a Japanese actress and singer)

It was a conversation with my good friend Mike that got me writing this article:

"When are you going back to Canada?"--Mike asked suddenly on the way to Starbucks in Tokyo.

"Uh? Probably never. I doubt I could do as well there as I'm doing here now,
and I really don't want to start all over again."

"Okay. Do you like living here?"

"Yes overall, but like many foreigners I have a love-hate relationship with Japan.
Don't you?"

"No I don't."


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Friday, February 25, 2011

Dealing with Depression in Japan

Keeping The “Depression Dragon” At Bay

Over the last several years, there has been much discussion in the media about depression, which has been called “the common cold of mental illness”. If people are struggling with depression in their own country, the problem is worse for those who are living in another country and culture such as here in Japan. I recall the story I heard a few years ago about a Canadian woman who came to Japan to teach in the JET program. After six months living and working in Tokyo, she tragically ended her life by jumping in front of a subway train. One could say that depression is a quiet killer which affects people in many ways. I’m not a psychiatrist or psychologist but I am a person who has experienced what has been called the “darkness of the soul”. I want to share a few ideas which have helped me in my fight with the dragon.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Travelling from Japan to Australia

Reflections on the Land of Oz

Richard Schwartz

  They asked me not to climb their rock.  I neglected to do any research before my trip to Australia, so I rather
naively figured that I could just fly into Sudney and take a bus to Uluru (which the more Euro-centric among us
still refer to as "Ayer's Rock.")  A simple look at the map would have educated me; the two are as far apart as
Florida and Chicago.  In addition, there is no direct overland route through the wasteland known as the Outback;
only a patchwork of highway and dirt.  I ended up flying to Alice Springs and chartering a bus, effectively doubling
the cost of my week long getaway.
  Once in Alice, my real education began.  For me, the real pleasure of a trip is meeting the people of that place, sharing
our differences and revelling in our similarities.  Moreover, I have long looked forward to encountering the Aborigines.
One of my objectives was to hear first hand the stories of the mythic "dreamtime," and feel the strength of Uluru
beneath my feet.
  I was immediately disappointed on the first count.  Alice Springs has a considerable aboriginal population living in
public housing, but I found them quite unapproachable; nothing like the playful cartoons in movies like Crocodile
Dundee.  They never smiled, nor never made eye contact.  Later, as I found out more about the history of colonization
in Australia, this aloofness all began to make sense.
  Australia was apparently founded on a lie known as terra nullius; that is, that the continent Captain Cook had sailed
to was "unoccupied land," and that the British Crown was under no obligation to respect the very visible people who
had by then been living there, by most estimates, for some 60,000 years.  What followed was predictable: forced
relocation and acculturation, death from introduced diseases, lives wasted in alcoholism.  The parallels to the
original inhabitants of North and South America are quite profound.
  I dearly wanted to know more, but couldn't ask.  The only aborigine I actually spoke to while I was there was
Willy, the manager of the guesthouse where I stayed in Sydney.  He was a hulking, dangerous man who could
play several musical instruments and sing harmony on "American Pie."  He appeared  old enough to have been one
of the aborigine children plucked from their families and raised by whites.  This was Australia's mid-century
experiment in social genocide.   I never saw fit to ask Willy if he had been one of the abducted unfortunates.
I wish I could have; he clearly had much history and experience to share, but just as clearly, he didn't want to share
 Aborigines are described as an intensely private people, having rituals and ceremonies they keep secret even
from each other.  Even men and women are not privy to the others' business, with a special punishment for those
who violate this curtain of secrecy.  Anyone expressing a greater-than-ordinary curiosity into the affairs of another
was rewarded with a spear through the thigh. (What a pity we gaijin can't adopt a similar strategy here in Japan.
The next time someone asks me "How old are you?"--would certainly be the last!)
  All of my observations so far have been about the aboriginal people, who represent only a fragment of the
continent's present population.  Given the current debate over the character of the Australian nation, I must say
that I was treated very well the entire time I was there.  I learned that the correct response to "Thank you" is not
"You're welcome," but "No worries."
  It is a surpassingly liberal society; posters in the underground station trumpet official causes, from not distracting
seeing-eye dogs to being more tolerant of homosexuals.  The warnings on a pack of cigarettes, far from the lukewarm
"...shown to cause cancer in laboratory rats..." are more indicative of a protective, cradle to grave social state.
"Don't even think of smoking these bloody things," a sign scolds, "they're bad for you."  In general, I decided the
Australian people are more polite than they needed to be...but I'm not sure it would have been so had I been a
different colour.  Like many liberal Americans of the sixties and seventies, I found them racist but indignant at
having it pointed out.  While walking on a Sydney beach, I saw a large net protecting the swimming area.  Protecting
it from what I asked a group of old men.  Jellyfish? Sharks? No, cracked one.  It keeps Asians out.
  I formulated this truism years ago: Anyone who says "I'm not a racist, but..." invariably follows it up with a
racist statement.  Australian anti-foreigner politician Pauline Hanson and those who claim she is not a racist
must take the test by completing the sentence: "I am not a racist, I just don't want to share my continent with
blacks and Asians."
  Since I know you're curious, yes the water did swirl down the drain in a counter-clockwise motion, four trials out
of five.  Although, I could force it to go the opposite way with my hands.  Obviously this is not definitive and calls
for more experimentation, but there were people waiting in line for the shower, and I don't think they would have
approved my research!  My final observation about the Australian people is that bad spelling is endemic, even by
US standards.  In particular, there seems to be an insistence to use an apostrophe to form the possessive "its"
(as in "a lion and it's cubs" sic), even in professionally printed signs.  I also saw many apostrophes in simple
plural nouns, giving us "Our chef's are..." (sic) and "These premise's" (sic). Dan Quayle would feel right at
home. {So would George Bush!--Editor}
  On the road leading up to Uluru stands a visitors' centre, offering teasing bits of information on the lifestyle and
legends of the aborigines, but leaving more untold than told.  We learn that the rock is for them a monument--
every crack and gully a record of spear wounds and fallen shields, commemorating epic battles between mythic
super heroes of "dreamtime."  Even here their private nature is manifested--random photographs are papered
over with the explanation that the individuals photographed are recently deceased, and the community doesn't
wish their likenesses shown.  The aborigines are conspicuous for their absence; their communities are off-limits
to visitors, and in the event that we do see any, we are respectfully asked not to photograph them.
  The bombshell came near the end of the exhibit, in a subtle and tastefully-worded sign; that they, themselves
consider Uluru a sacred place, which they don't climb; that as long as I'm here I might as well take photos and
walk around the perimeter; but that they would very much appreciate it if I decided not to climb it.
  I came halfway around the world.  I spent a lifetime preparing for this moment.  In the end, I decided not to
climb it, and I just walked around the outside instead.  They asked me not to climb their rock, and once I got
there, I knew exactly how they felt.  If it had been my rock, I wouldn't want anyone climbing on it either.
(c) Kublai Khan Unlimited
Richard Schwartz

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Achieving Financial Freedom in Japan

Achieving Financial Freedom in Japan by unconventional means.

If I tell you how I am going to achieve financial freedom, you will probably laugh.     Many have laughed at me before.     Like the time I said I would do stand up comedy.    I did and not only
did I peform, I performed on Canada`s national radio station - the CBC.    I went on to perform
in Tokyo at the Tokyo Comedy Store, starting the predecessor of that club.

People laughed when I said I would start an English school in Japan.    My wife and I own two. 

I tend to follow through on what I really want.     I bet you do too!

So when I asked so-called experts if it was possible to make money on the internet, they said

And when I said I wanted to do it from writing, they practically laughed.

Yet a Canadian teenager has done exactly that, by writing about an obscure island in the
Caribbean.    I intend to do it by writing about Lego and other topics.

At this moment Google owes me over 50,000 Yen, and that grows every month.    I know that isn`t exactly money to retire on.   But the potential is amazing, and I have just started.

If you want BS, or you want GRQ- Get Rich Quick.   Look elsewhere.    I am talking about building a real business that I can give to my children, and give to my grandchildren.

Few people are willing to think outside of the box, and there are plenty of people to tell you
it cannot be done.    But a Canadian teenager has proven that it can.

I think I know more than a teenager in Canada.   I hope I do!   I know that you do!

What does she know that we don`t?

FOX NEWS INSIDER: “Stuff Is Just Made Up”

FOX NEWS INSIDER: “Stuff Is Just Made Up”

February 10, 2011 7:20 am ET by Eric Boehlert
Asked what most viewers and observers of Fox News would be surprised to learn about the controversial cable channel, a former insider from the world of Rupert Murdoch was quick with a response: “I don’t think people would believe it’s as concocted as it is; that stuff is just made up.”
Indeed, a former Fox News employee who recently agreed to talk with Media Matters confirmed what critics have been saying for years about Murdoch’s cable channel. Namely, that Fox News is run as a purely partisan operation, virtually every news story is actively spun by the staff, its primary goal is to prop up Republicans and knock down Democrats, and that staffers at Fox News routinely operate without the slightest regard for fairness or fact checking.  
“It is their M.O. to undermine the administration and to undermine Democrats,” says the source. “They’re a propaganda outfit but they call themselves news.”

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Friday, February 11, 2011

About Me and How to Teach English in Japan

About Me and How to Teach English in Japan

"Facebook... YouTube... Twitter... FlickrWhat do the above businesses have in common?
OK, you wish you owned them!! So do we. What else?
If you answered, "Their visitors built their businesses by creating and uploading content for them," you are 100% correct.
Visitors upload...
* "themselves" to Facebook
* videos to YouTube
* short messages to Twitter
* photos to Flickr.
Why do they do it? Because they want to.
How do we know that? They do it for free!
It doesn't stop there. It's just the beginning. People develop followings, build relationships, communicate. Strangers become friends, pass the word virally, and round and round it goes, growing like crazy."

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On Owning a dog in Japan

On Owning a dog in Japan

A Tail (groan…) About a Dog

by Thomas C. Anderson

We’ve been the happy owners of a black Labrador Retriever for the past decade. Audrey’s my childhood dream come true as I wasn’t able to have a dog as a child because of my father’s allergies. In being Audrey’s master (or vice versa), I have come to believe that there’s a strong and almost spiritual connection between people and dogs.  Read More

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Goose Boats, Atsuko Masano, and Little Green Men in Hakone?

Goose Boats, Atsuko Masano, and Little Green Men in Hakone?

Just another day in paradise?

Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan

When you see something very strange, you have to honestly ask yourself, am I getting enough sleep?
Has there been too much stress at work lately? Is this about me? Or am I really seeing this strange thing in front of me? Fortunately when I saw my first UFO in Hakone, my friend Atsuko Masano saw it too. So either we were both suffering from too much stress or it was real. I think the latter is true.

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The Immense Cost of Japanese Dams and Dam-Related Landslides and Earthquakes

The Immense Cost of Japanese Dams and Dam-Related Landslides and Earthquakes

by Atsuko Masano

Translated by Aaron Skabelund

It had been three months since the Iwate-Miyagi Nairiku Earthquake struck northern Honshu on 14 June 2008, triggering a huge landslide above Aratozawa Dam. The area hit by a landslide has been further carved by snow and rain, and trees and other vegetation are in disarray. The site looks like the day after a wretched barber had just given it a bad haircut. For the earth, this must be an embarrassing appearance.

According to the National Institute for Land and Infrastructure Management -  the epicenter of the 7.2 magnitude quake was near Mt. Kurikoma on the border between three prefectures--Miyagi , Iwate, and Akita -- and in the close vicinity of 15 dams (one which is still under construction) including Aratozawa to the southeast.

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Never Trust a White Russian

Never Trust a White Russian

Odawara, Kanagawa 小田原

by Kevin Burns

I never intended to set the white russian drinking record at John Festa's, the Canadian style Odawara eatery/bar, yet that is what I accomplished. It was Mike's idea to go there but wenever even ate a meal, the appetizers and alcohol filled us up nicely. I definitely don't recommend mixing draft beer and white russians. I do recommend sitting close to the men's room.

It is amazing how much a train can spin when you close your eyes after drinking ten white russians.It seems to spin at all angles at once. The only way to stop it is to open your eyes and let everyone know with your glazed look, that "Hey, look over there, that gaijin is wasted."

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Monday, February 07, 2011

Studying English in Japan - 日本で英語を勉強する 1

Studying English in Japan - 日本で英語を勉強する 1  ツダユキオ氏の考えと日本で英語を学ぶこと

by Brad Robinson


Studying English in Japan - 日本で英語を勉強する 1

” 英語には情け容赦ない力を現すダークサイドがある”ツダ氏は英語の能力を持つことが日本人にとって重要だと感じていないのです。(彼自身、英語を勉強することでたくさんのトラブルが続いたのです)私は英語教師ですが、エスペラントが人々のギャップの橋渡しをするために作った国際的な言葉がもっとも公平なのだといつも感じていました。幅広く使用されたり受け入れられることなく、勉強もしなかったのです。

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Sunday, February 06, 2011

Amnesty International supports international petition for justice for “comfort women”

Amnesty International supports international petition for justice for “comfort women”



Amnesty International takes the opportunity of International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women to join with activists in Japan to call on the government of Japan to provide justice for the survivors of Japan’s World War II military sexual slavery system.

Today, a petition of around 620,000 signatures signed by people from Korea, Japan, the Philippines and other countries has been presented to the Prime Minister’s Office. The petition calls on the government of Japan to draft and pass a bill without delay, seeking a comprehensive resolution to the "comfort women" issue. Amnesty International adds its voice to this call.

In May, Navanethem Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights visited Japan and met former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama. She encouraged the government of Japan to pursue its commitment to human rights reforms, including the establishment of an independent national human rights institution and the ratification of additional complaints procedures under international treaties. She also raised specifically the need for a solution for the surviving women in a way that meets their expectations. Read More

Friday, February 04, 2011


Pictured: Disgruntled Japanese teenagers turn to gangs

Japanese Education Problems - 日本で標準化された、テストに基礎を置いた教育システム

by Brad Thomas



Tuesday, February 01, 2011

振り込め詐欺 電話で実行される見事な犯罪

振り込め詐欺 電話で実行される見事な犯罪


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