Sunday, July 27, 2008

Bobby Valentine and I

Yeah, I don't want to brag, and yes I've touched on it here before, but I interviewed Bobby Valentine a couple weeks ago.

Here's a semi-quick write-up of the whole thing.


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Pricey Watermelon

This a picture of a Densuke watermelon at the Inageya supermarket near here.

I recently read that the first of these black watermelons was auctioned off for 650,000 yen (roughly $6,000) at the beginning of this season.

In that same article I read that supermarkets were selling them for between twenty and thirty thousand yen (200 to 300 dollars), but the ones in Hanakoganei are going for the bargain price of 5,800 yen (about $54).

About 10,000 of these melons were grown on the northern island of Hokkaido this year, so a very limited number are available at any one store.

It looks like a bowling ball...


Friday, July 25, 2008

Myojo Ippei-chan TV Commercial

I haven't seen it yet, but my good friend sent me another photo of her television as soon as she saw this TV commercial hit the small screen. Here's one that she sent me last year.

This one is for Myojo's "Ippei-chan" cup ramen and it's apparently on air all the time.

I'm not wearing glasses in this one, so I'm having a harder time flying below the radar. I've resorted to telling my students at the university that I have a twin brother, named Scott, that is the one appearing on TV.

And some of them actually believe me when I tell them that.

Anyway, for a short version of this TV commercial, you can go to this website.

Quick synopsis: I play a non-Japanese, ramen-obsessed nerd that is desperately seeking something that is called "koku-uma". The business man that I try to get to help me doesn't know what I'm talking about, and a little word-play comedy ensues (he shows up with the wrong thing three times).

After some more searching, we happen upon a koku-uma ramen shop and everyone (especially me!) is happy.


Thursday, July 24, 2008


Stating the obvious.


Saturday, July 19, 2008

Chiba Lotte Marines Beijing Olympics Press Conference

This picture is from a press conference that we attended at Chiba Marine Stadium on Thursday. It was the day that the team announced who Hoshino, the national team's head coach, had chosen to represent Japan at the Beijing Olympics next month.

Seated at the table, from left to right are, Nishioka (ss), Satozaki (c) and Naruse (p). They were asked some boring questions by the lady from NHK, and then they did some posing in front of the hinomaru flag. Chiba will sorely miss those three in August, but every team is taking a hit during the olympics.


Dessert Pizza

This photo isn't very clear, but it's a snapshot of a slice of pizza that I didn't eat the other day.

If you look closely, there's marshmallow and chocolate syrup on there.

I didn't go anywhere near it. Dave ate it.

This was one of the offerings on the lunch buffet at Shakey's in Takadanobaba.


Friday, July 18, 2008

J-League Game

Stephen took me to the national stadium in Tokyo to see my first J-League game last night. It was actually quite good, to be honest with you.

He said that the crowd was a bit odd because the game wasn't being played at their home stadium (Ajinomoto Stadium), but I was impressed with how rambunctious they were.

Even though the defense was a bit shocking, the footy was mostly alright.

I would definitely be happy to go and see another game.

FC Tokyo and Gamba Osaka drew 1-1. FC Tokyo's goal came by way of Waseda University alum, Tokunaga, and was one of the best goals I've ever seen live.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Waseda (Tutorial) Summer Party 2008

Kelly's band of teachers at Waseda University got absorbed by my band of teachers which means that she was able to cop an invite to the annual summer piss-up that is held at/near the end of the spring Tutorial English/Chinese semester.

This is a photo of her floating towards the after-party at the Cantina near Takadanobaba station.

That's Okuma Hall in the background.


Friday, July 11, 2008

New Shinjuku Burger King

I don't normally get all excited about hamburgers, but I'm so tired of McDonald's and Lotteria that little things like this make me happy.

A new Burger King outlet recently opened near Seibu-Shinjuku station. That's two in Shinjuku (by my count--I'm probably wrong though), and this new outlet, despite marking the border between the train station and the seediest part of the ward (Kabuki-cho), is 100% non-smoking. Well, except for those two tables out front of course.

This place used to be a Lotteria--located only about a hundred meters from the south exit of Seibu-Shinjuku station (go down the stairs, cross over to McDonald's and turn left).

I haven't been in there yet, but I will venture inside soon.

McDonald's still gets my 100 yen every morning when I buy coffee though.


Saturday, July 05, 2008

Erwin and Pellegrini (Tokyo Edition)

Emily Erwin and I (Hye-young in the background) in Tokyo. Welcome to the sauna, Emmy!


Thursday, July 03, 2008

Japanese Suicide Rate Remains Steady

2007 was the 10th year in a row in which the number of people who committed suicide broke the 30,000 mark.

The National Police Agency reported 33,093 suicides last year

Most reports cite unspecified social pressures driving people to take their own lives. Very little seems to be discussed in terms of what can be done to help relieve said pressures. For years, the economy has been blamed for these unfortunate deaths. However, now that the economy is relatively stable (compared to the late 90's), it's obvious that the economy doesn't deserve the bulk of the blame.

Akita prefecture has been training its health professionals to recognize the signs of depression (isn't that a course in med school anyway?) since 2001. However, that northern prefecture of Japan has consistently had one of the highest suicide rates in the country.

Last year Akita had the second highest rate (suicides per 100,000 population) at 37.2 while Yamanashi, a prefecture nestled between Mt. Fuji and Western Tokyo, had a suicide rate of 39.

While the extra awareness on the part of doctors and nurses doesn't seem to be doing much, maybe the best way to reach people suffering from depression is to actually grab them.

Emergency technicians in the southern city of Fukuoka managed to stop a 38-year-old woman from jumping off the 12th floor of an office building in Hata-ku.

Their plan of attack was simple. They talked calmly to her until she took her eyes off them and then they lunged and grabbed her by the belt. Daring and crazy up on that ledge? Yes. Effective? You bet.

Now let's just hope she gets the help she really needs lest she climb back out there and try the same thing again.

[photo courtesy of Mainichi Newspaper]