Tuesday, June 13, 2017.
Ultraman (ウルトラマン, Urutoraman) is a Japanese science fiction television series created by Eiji Tsuburaya. Ultraman is a follow-up to Ultra Q, though not technically a sequel or spin-off. The show was produced by Tsuburaya Productions and was broadcast on Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) from July 17, 1966 to April 9, 1967, with a total of 39 episodes.
Although Ultraman is the first series to feature an Ultra-Crusader, it is actually the second show in the Ultra Series, Ultra Q was the first. In fact, Ultraman opens with the Ultra Q logo exploding into the Ultraman logo. Ultraman, and its titular hero, became a major pop culture phenomenon in Japan, spawning dozens of sequels, spin-offs, imitators, parodies and remakes.
Ultraman, Ultraman, here he comes from the sky.
Ultraman, Ultraman, watch our hero fly.
In a super-jet he comes from a billion miles away.
From a distant planet comes our Ultraman.
Seven, Seven, Seven, Seven
Seven, Seven, Seven,
Seven, Seven, Seven.
Far among the Galaxy, is where your homes lies.
Ultra-Seven, Seven, Seven.
March to the end of the Big Milky Way.
With the Ultra Eye. Spark!
Seven, Seven, Seven,
Seven, Seven, Seven.
We know you by another name, the Planet Man, Dan.
Save us from destruction. The evil monsters.
With the Ultra Beam. Strike!
Seven, Seven, Seven,
Seven, Seven, Seven.
Seven is the number of the miracle man.
Go, strike, defend our life and happiness.
With the Ultra-Hawk. Attack!
Thursday, June 8, 2017.
I took this picture on Sunday, June 4, 2017. Every day, in all seasons and weathers, I walk up this hill. In the autumn the leaves of the ginkgo trees on the left turn yellow and it looks pretty in the low-angle afternoon autumn sunlight. The cement wall on the right is the retaining wall of a public high school property at the top of the hill, across the street from my apartment. I have been told that in olden days the land at the top of the slope - which today is the high school’s sports ground regularly filled with happy, shouting girls and boys - used to be an execution field. That was in the time when jailers practiced gratuitous torture to inflate punitive suffering before lopping the condemneds' heads off with a samurai sword. I don’t know if that’s true, but it’s a great story. The street, called Nakano dori, was cut into the slope of the hill, leaving the high school exposed and protected/supported by a heavy retaining wall. This picture is looking South. The slope is actually part of a river valley made by the Kanda River which flows through my neighbourhood about 50-meters behind where I am standing when I took this picture. At the base of the slope the wall is quite high - maybe eight meters. Then it tapers as you ascend the slope until the wall is just 1.3-meters on my street. Until a few weeks ago this wall was largely covered with clinging vines. I watched as a Nakano City crew scraped the cement clean. I kind of like the wall.
Thursday, June 8, 2017.
This book is the quarterly catalog from "Ogawa Tosho," the Ogawa Bookstore on Yasukuni dori in Tokyo's famous Jimbocho Booktown. It is a full-on antiquarian bookstore. It's a very small shop, but most of its business is done privately, to rich collectors who peruse this catalog that is printed and distributed four times a year and then purchase through representatives without actually visiting the store. I've bought a few things from the shop over the years - usually cheap liquidation stock from bins on the sidewalk in front of the store. But once I bought something that had to be shipped to my home by parcel delivery - a beautiful, illustrated six-volume Bible (in Spanish) that weighed a ton. Since then the store has had my name and address on record and it regularly sends me its catalog. The highest-priced item in its inventory is about a half million dollars.
Used books are the most dangerous kind there are. Because they have no permanent owners they roam the world uncontrolled, passing irregularly from one person to another spreading ideas. They are unpredictable. They are dissident. They are like me. I love them.
Wednesday, June 7, 2017.
In mid-morning on Monday, June 5, 2017 the heavy leather belt that I have habitually worn every day for the last ten years broke and literally disintegrated on my body while I was working. That left me with the problem of holding my trousers up with one hand while trying to work with the other for half the day, hoping that people didn’t notice. In my work I am constantly on my feet and moving around, not sitting discreetly at a desk. It’s a maddeningly awful feeling. At lunch time I scooted out to a convenience store across the road and was lucky to find some safety pins which helped a lot, but not entirely. After leaving work I began to commute to an evening job. While transferring through Shinjuku san-chome Subway Station - still holding my trousers up with one hand - I saw a kiosk selling hats, neckties, folding fans, and belts. Lucky!! It was a temporary kiosk, the sort of thing that breaks down and is set up in a different location in a different subway station every few days - a roaming vendor of various utilitarian items. Sometimes I see kiosks selling costume jewelry, sometimes some selling rice crackers or umbrellas or other odds and ends. I knew I had a spare belt at home, but I couldn’t wait that long, so naturally I bought a belt on the spot and was glad of it. It was a long 130 cm belt, much too large for me, designed to be cut to size by each buyer. So my trouble wasn’t over yet. I could not wear it right away. It wasn’t until I got to my evening job that I was able to cut it to size with a pair of scissors.
Exactly 48-hours later, on Wednesday, June 7, 2017, the emergency belt that I bought on Monday 5th also broke and felt apart, precipitating a new crisis. What the hell is it with this country and its goddamned belts?! Maybe I am wearing my belt and other clothes differently than I used to and wear them out in a different manner. I have gained weight over the years, but I am not currently gaining. But maybe with age my body shape has changed due to age-related metabolism changes, causing me to fit into my clothes differently and wear them out in an unfamiliar way. I'm only speculating. I wonder if there is anything to it?
What the hell is it with this country and its goddamned belts?!
Now, it happens to be true that at the moment I am deliberately avoiding buying some kinds of clothes of which I have an excess - T-shirts, underwear and socks - and am purposefully letting the clothes I have wear out and disintegrate on my body - literally disintegrate. I have a big collection of T-shirts, some of which I haven’t worn in years and instead of throwing the excess or aged items in the trash I want to honor them by using them for their intended purposes. You know, the economic principle of production for use. Things are produced for a purpose, therefore it is fitting that they be used for their intended purpose.
The economic principle of production for use: things are produced for a purpose, therefore it is fitting that they be used for their intended purpose.
But belts are of a different type. Belts have a unique importance. I need them. I do not have an excess, and having them fall apart on my body - especially in the middle of the day, at work, with no convenient facility to replace them - is definitely inconvenient and irritating.
Saturday, May 27, 2017.
My apartment is on the third floor of my building. That’s not very high, but I always use the elevator to ascend and descend. When I am going up I always hit two buttons - the 3rd floor and the 5th floor. Why? (I used to push the 3rd floor and the 6th [top] floor until I was asked to stop doing that. So I changed to the 5th floor to satisfy the request.) The reason has to do with a witchy old woman who used to live on the ground floor near the elevator. She died in hospital of cancer one year ago. I cannot fully describe in print how horrible this person was. She spied on and gossiped about everyone. She picked through other residents’ garbage to see what we were throwing out. Twenty years ago she slapped a member of my family in the face in full view of my young daughter. My complaint to the local Police Box (“koban”) was disregarded. “There’s nothing we can do” (a familiar, useless and pathetic Japanese refrain). I also know that this woman used her proximity to the elevator to spy on people’s coming and going. I saw her do it once - darting out of her door to check the elevator after hearing someone enter and the doors close. I guess she wanted to know where people were going to keep track of activity in the building. After that I began to push more than one button when I went upstairs in the hope of planting confusion, so that if she did the same to me I might sow doubt in her mind about the destination (and identity) of the passenger.
Now that she’s dead I am not inclined to stop. I continue doing it with faith in the remote chance I might continue to confuse her ghost. She was so awful that I don’t feel protected by the chasm of Death.
I don’t ignore the possibility that I am wrong and being mean toward her. I know that no one knows the mind of another, that I never walked in her shoes, that I don’t know her biography. But I don’t care. She slapped a family member in the face in full view of my young daughter. Unforgiven.
Before going to bed on Thursday night, May 4, 2017 I read on Facebook about 95-year-old Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh announcing his retirement from active royal duties in August this year, citing his age. Then in the Friday, May 5, 2017 morning newspaper I read the same news. At the same time, Japanese morning television covered the story extensively because Japan is currently dealing with its own royal retirement issue. In a televised speech to the nation last year the 83-year-old Emperor Akihito expressed his desire to abdicate and retire, also citing his age. In that respect there is some parallel here.
So far, Japanese law has not provided for a royal abdication, so accepting the Emperor's expressed desire to retire created a legal problem. The last imperial abdication here was centuries ago. For many months now the government has been considering the matter and has been preparing a bill for the National Diet (legislature) to provide for a one-off abdication. I mean, not a permanent, legal abdication mechanism that would interfere with a smooth Imperial succession.
Then the Saturday, May 20, 2017 edition of The Japan Times daily featured the story “Cabinet OKs one-time-only abdication bill” on the front page. It reported that “The government is looking at December 2018, when the Emperor turns 85, as the timing for his abdication, which will likely trigger a change in Japan’s gengo (era name), which remains in use throughout an emperor’s reign, at the start of 2019. I cannot disregard the possibility that the government might be looking towards the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games with a desire to have the imperial situation taken care of smoothly well before the global magnifying glass turns towards us.
On Friday, June 9, 2017 the National Diet enacted an abdication law for Emperor Akihito, paving the way for Crown Prince Naruhito, 57, to rise to the Imperial throne. . His abdication was reported in the Saturday, June 10, 2017 Japan Times newspaper as expected to take place at the end of 2018. It would be Japan's first abdication in about 200 years, since current law only allows Imperial succession to take place when an emperor dies. The government was reported to decided on the timing of an abdication by issuing an ordinance. The abdication will usher in a change in Japan's era name, or "nengo." Japan currently uses both Western and traditional calendar systems. The current "nengo" is called Heisei 29, which refers to the 29th year of the era of Emperor Akihito.
Thursday, May 4, 2017.
When I was a young man in high school and university I was in the habit of always talking about myself. It was always me, me, me in the manner of my breed. In adult company - my parents and their friends - I talked about what I was studying at school, what books I was reading, what movies I watched recently, and what I thought of stuff. Schools encouraged, cultivated and promoted this, and rewarded pupils who were good at it. Looking back on myself, I guess I look kind of silly, but not atypical. I don’t suppose people’s opinion of me was mitigated by the fact that I was an authentically interesting person with interesting things to say.
Later, after my children were born and began to grow I evolved into talking about my children instead of myself. Now that my children are pretty much grown I don’t say/speak much of anything anymore, although I write a lot. I’ve learned that no one really cares about what I think on the one hand, and on the other hand saying what one really thinks in social situations is an extremely ill-advised enterprise. (We’ve got the right to free speech, but don’t be stupid enough to actually try it.)
I read a lot, and that is a form of self-expression. Plus I write a lot: my Personal Newspaper; my blog; by Facebook page; occasional Reddit posts; occasional letters-to-the-editor of print newspapers; occasional stories in print magazines. But I readily admit that what I write might or might not be true. The thing is that when no one cares what you think (or when you are denied permission to an opinion) that leaves only two options: 1) say nothing at all to anyone; or, 2) say ANYTHING at all to everyone. Number 2 is more fun. To give fair warning, my speech as well as my writing are habitually accompanied by a disclaimer that what I am saying or writing only might be true.
Saturday, April 22, 2017.
This year Easter fell on Sunday, April 16, 2017. For most Christians, who use the Gregorian Calendar, Ester falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon, after the Spring Equinox. That formula ensures that the holiday regularly falls between late-March and early-May. Orthodox (Eastern) Christianity, which still uses the old Julian calendar, celebrates Easter on a wider variety of dates.
Japan has many native festivals for all seasons and occasions. But that does not stop it from adopting redundant (foreign) festivals like Valentine's Day (introduced by Isetan Department Store in 1958 as a confectionary marketing scheme), Halloween (promoted as simple Cosplay, at which Japanese already excel), and Christmas (framed as a romantic time for lovers).
Now confectionary companies are pushing Easter like never before. Rabbit and Easter Egg images are easy to find, and I've even seen some TV commercials promoting Easter chocolate. An article in a recent edition of The Japan Times English-language newspaper reported that surveys indicate only about 20% of respondents understand what Easter is. Of course, when they do these surveys they probably lead off with questions about the Easter Bunny and eggs. They are confusing images that most people, let alone most Christians cannot explain, and inability to answer the question colors how familiarity with the holiday is judged. How fair and balanced are the surveys? How fair and balanced do they need to be?
I've spoken to Japanese - and foreigners - who say "the re-birth of Jesus." Obviously, you see the hurdle the Christian idea of resurrection has to overcome here, competing with the deeply-ingrained Asian idea of reincarnation (not the same thing at all). The challenge is that the idea of resurrection here is confronting the idea of reincarnation on its home turf. What surprised/disappointing me is that the same confusion among Western foreigners.
I find such discussions very engaging and meaningful. But contemporary secular/atheist-minded folk tend to see it as a useless topic on the one hand, ad the difference between the two (the difference between reincarnation and resurrection) as a difference that makes no difference on the other hand.
They are wrong.
I am a permanent foreign resident in Japan. I have no plan. I don't know what I'm doing.
6 月 2017