Thursday, September 24, 2009

Eat You Veggies

Japan has a lot of very interesting seasonal foods. To go along with the interesting seasonal foods are the, "not so interesting" seasonal confectionaries. Check out the latest from Nestle. The Fruit and Vegetable Kit Kat candy bar.

Here's my take on it!

Weird Japanese Wheels

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hashima Island: Japan's Ghost Island

Someone sent me some lyrics to a song about an interesting island in Japan. At first, I dismissed it as not so interesting, but after about 10 minutes of snooping around, I thought it was pretty damn amazing!

Hashima Island; commonly called Gunkanjima (軍艦島; meaning "Battleship Island") is one among 505 uninhabited islands in the Nagasaki Prefecture about 15 kilometers from Nagasaki itself. The island was populated from 1887 to 1974 as a coal mining facility. The island's most notable features are the abandoned concrete buildings and the sea wall surrounding it. It has been administered as part of Nagasaki, Nagasaki since 2005.

"Battleship Island" is an English translation of the Japanese nickname for Hashima Island, Gunkanjima (gunkan meaning "battleship", jima being the rendaku form of shima, meaning "island"). The island's nickname came from its apparent resemblance to the Japanese battleship Tosa due to its high seawalls. It also is known as the Ghost Island. It is known for its coal mines and their operation during the industrialization of Japan. Mitsubishi bought the island in 1890 and began the project, the aim of which was retrieving coal from the bottom of the sea. They built Japan's first large concrete building, a block of apartments in 1916 to accommodate their burgeoning ranks of workers (many of whom were forcibly recruited labourers from other parts of Asia), and to protect against typhoon destruction. Wikipedia...

In 1959, its population density was 835 people per hectare (83,500 people/km2) for the whole island, or 1,391 per hectare (139,100 people/km2) for the residential district, the highest population density ever recorded worldwide. As petroleum replaced coal in Japan in the 1960s, coal mines began shutting down all over the country, and Hashima's mines were no exception. Mitsubishi officially announced the closing of the mine in 1974, and today it is empty and bare, which is why it's called the Ghost Island. Travel to Hashima was re-opened on April 22, 2009 after more than 20 years of closure.

An eerie site for sure. This place would be a virtual wonderland for urban explorers!

A short blurb from the History Channel about the island:

An arial view of the island on video:

part of a documentary about the island:

I have to admit that i would love to travel to this island someday. it seems like an incredibly fascinating place to go.

Visiting the Island Today!

The island is increasingly gaining international attention not only as one of the modern international heritages in the region, but also as the housing complex remnants in the years from Taisho Era to Showa Era. Moreover, the island has become the frequent subject of a discussion among enthusiasts for ruins.
Since the abandoned island has not been maintained, several buildings have already collapsed. Other existing buildings are subject to breakage. In this regard, however, certain collapsed exterior walls have been restored with concrete. While the island was owned by Mitsubishi Material up until 2002, it was voluntarily transferred to Takashima town. Currently, Nagasaki City possesses the island. A small portion of the island was re-opened for tourism on April 22nd, 2009. A full reopening of the island would require an enormous amount of money to make the premises safe, due to the aging of the buildings. Wikipedia...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Kobe at night

Kobe 神戸 is a small and beautiful city. I really enjoy living here. It's the fourth city I have lived in while in Asia and is by far my favorite. the seasons are changing and things are cooling down. The nasty heat and humidity that is the Japanese summer is gone and Fall is quickly approaching.

Here is a little video that I quickly put together showing Sannomiya 三ノ宮 (the downtown) at night. I plan to reshoot a similar video once I upgrade to a better camera.

An Autumn Evening in Japan

Monday, September 21, 2009

Kansai Music festival

Last weekend saw the first Kansai Music Festival come to Osaka. I thought it was a pretty cool deal because it afforded me my first chance t meet fellow You Tuber and musician, Fatblueman. Fatblueman is actually a band based in Nagoya, Japan and is comprised of one Canadian, two Americans and one Japanese person. The lead singer, John, has been a very active member of the Japan You Tube community for quite some time and launched himself and his band into a sort of micro-stardom with their viral video, "Christmas in Japan" (which I appeared in).

They performed at a showcase at a live event bar in Hommachi called mother Popcorn. This was the first time for this festival so there were apparently some major hiccups. I was told that the keynote speaker failed to show up and at the showcase i saw, one of the bands failed to do so as well. Luckily, Tom Fallon (a member of Fatblueman) and Brian Cullen stepped in for an impromtu set.

Check out some of my videos from the showcase at Mother Popcorn in Osaka:


I wanted to upload some pictures, but unfortunately, Blogger isn't allowing me to put them online!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Anti-Pervert campaign

Those who live in Japan know that there is a huge problem on busy trains in this country. Often perverts ride the trains preying upon young women and girls. They try to corner them and then grope them. The term for these freak-shows is "chikan." In Tokyo this week, there has been a massive Anti-Chikan" campaign. I caught this Fuji TV special (with English subtitles) on Japan Probe. Scary stuff!!!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Japanese town in 'The Cove' setting dolphins free

Japanese town in 'The Cove' setting dolphins free
Updated Thu. Sep. 10 2009 6:44 AM ET

The Associated Press

TOKYO -- The Japanese town chronicled in the award-winning film "The Cove" for its annual dolphin hunt that turns coastal waters red with blood has suspended killing the animals -- at least for this week's catch -- following an international outcry.

The western Japanese town of Taiji will sell some of the animals to aquariums as it does every year, but the remainder of the 100 bottlenose dolphins that were caught early Wednesday in the first catch of the season are to be released. In the past, they were killed and sold for meat.

An official at the Taiji fisheries association, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the town abhors the publicity its dolphin-killing has drawn, said Thursday that the decision was made partly in response to the international outcry created by "The Cove." Read More...

If you don't know about the movie, "The Cove", check out the trailer. It's pretty damn powerful!

The Cove

The town of Taiji is located in Wakayama Prefecture which isn't really too far from my neck of the woods.That's the prefecture next to Osaka Prefecture.

Big Chair for a Big Guy

Sumo wrestler Yamamotoyama, who weighs 258 kilograms, and a young fan show off a seat specially created by McDonald’s Japan for sumo wrestlers in its Asakusabashi restaurant. The 25-year-old wrestler said he prefers McDonald’s to the traditional vegetable and meat ‘‘chanko’’ soup for sumo wrestlers. Japan Today

Check out my two latest vids on You Tube:

And I saw some nasty rats in the middle of the day close to my house!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Akashi Bridge

Today was another sunny and beautiful day in the Kansai. My wife and I decided to go to the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge which is the longest suspension bridge in the world. it was a gorgeous day, but the summer-like temperatures we've been dealing with all week made the day a little draining!

Some pics from the bridge:

Some weird news in Japan. The power of "crying" really can stop a crime dead in its tracks!

Univ student arrested after trying to blackmail two 11-year-old girls
TOKYO - A 20-year-old man was arrested for attempted extortion earlier this week after he allegedly tried to make two elementary school girls pay him 50,000 yen each, police said Friday.

Police said Ryunosuke Arima, a second-year student at Bunkyo University, approached the two 11-year-old girls on Aug 26 outside a Taito Ward bookstore, after he put a 1,000 yen bill on top of some books in the store. One of the girls had picked the bill up and told Arima that they were going to hand it in at a police station. Arima told them the money was his, and that if they didn’t want to get in trouble with the police, they should pay him 50,000 yen each.

Arima then tried to persuade the girls to give him some money over the next hour, but fled without success after the girls started crying. He was arrested on Sept 2, based on descriptions of his appearance. He has admitted to the allegations, saying he wanted to pull a prank on some girls.

Police are investigating if Arima was involved in two other incidents in the bookstore last month, in which two young girls were groped. See original at Japan Today