japan -- 日本


日本語 OK!


Interactive photographic map of the entire world!

Interactive photographic map of the entire world!

Photo Albums

The World of Flowers
The World of Flowers The Temples of Asia
The Temples of Asia Faces of Asia
FaceOff -- The Faces of Asia Great Cities of the World
Great Cities of the World Viking Horns
Vikings Horns -- The Warriors of Iceland BlurStream -- Human Movement
BlurStream -- Human Movement Singapore -- January 2003
Singapore -- January 2003

Photo Diary

A Day In The Life -- A Photo Diary Of My Entire Life
A Photo Diary of Every Day of My Life
A Day In The Life -- October 24 2003
Photo Diary -- October 24 2003


The 70s Never Died, It Just Smells That Way
The 70s Never Died, It Just Smells That Way Terrorism in the 00s -- EgyptAir
EgyptAir America disintegrates in the sands of the Middle East -- Israel with it!
Greek Start a Holy War!
Start a Holy War


Life of Pi -- A Review by Robert Sullivan
The Life of Pi

monday, october 21, 2003 /// install
日本語 OK! THIS WEEK I STARRED IN MY FIRST (and hopefully not last!) Japanese movie. The movie is called "Install" and apart from me, stars Ueto Aya, an 18-year-old Japanese celebrity. Aya told me that she dropped out of high school to become an actress, which is unusual in Japan (dropping out of school that is -- I guess become a famous actress is unusual as well, but being cute has undoubtedly helped her in this ambition!)

Anyway, in the movie, which is based on a famous Japanese book by the same name, Ueto Aya plays a schoolgirl who wants to change the world (again, a very unusual trait for a Japanese person, Ono Yoko excepting!) In particular, she wants to help the children of the world! I don't know how she does it but she manages to address the United Nations, or at least a sized-down mock version in a Yokohama studio. That's where I enter the picture.

The night before addressing the UN, Aya has a nightmare in which she is dissed and abused by the international delegates. They very undiplomatically trash her report which calls for the ending of world poverty, eliminating AIDS, improving potable water supply, and so on. For example, the American delegate, Mason Dick (who looked remarkably like Donald Rumsfeld, with the hard-right attitude to match) stood up and gave a bit of the old stern finger to the hapless cute schoolgirl. "This report doesn't make any sense," he snarls. "When are you going to do something with your life!"

It is a little bit absurd, even if it is meant to be a dream sequence -- but absurdity is the nature of Japanese entertainment. Anyway, this is what happens -- poor Aya gets grilled and cursed in the United Nations, dissed in many languages! It starts with Rumsfeld, then this African guy in traditional dress gets up and cusses her in a guttural African tongue. Aya looks startled. Suddenly, from behind, a Brazilian guy in a bad suit gets up and grills her in Portuguese. Before too long, everyone is at it -- rabble rousing at its finest! Finally, Aya has had enough, and slams her hands on the podium. "Jodan janai!" she exclaims -- "it is no joke!" In bad English she continues: "Because of you adult, there is problem in the world." Or something to that effect.

The funniest thing about the whole shoot was the ridiculous nameplates used to identify the UN delegates. The US delegate, as I stated before, was named "Mason Dick". The Danish delegate was "Petersen something-or-another" -- but as any Scandinavian will tell you, Petersen (or any name ending with "son" or "sen") is a last name -- it literally means "son of Peter". The Cambodian delegate didn't have a Khmer name as you would expect, but a Slavic/Yugoslav style name -- Rhadoslav Petric or something like that. There was a blonde white-than-white Russian woman sitting at the Indian table, a black African in traditional African dress sitting at the Finland table, and even me at the Iraqi table.

The absurd thing is, Japanese audiences are so insular, they probably won't even think there is something wrong when they see an Anglo-Saxon like me playing an Iraqi, or a black African representing Finland. I mean, all foreigners are the same, aren't they?

Sorry for the cynicism -- in truth I love Japan! But every country has a dark side -- insularity is the dark side of Japan!

Still, I think it is cool I got to meet and act in a movie with a famous Japanese actress -- it is another side of Japan that I have seen, and it is a side that few Japanese would be able to experience. At the very least, I got her autograph.

friday, october 17, 2003 /// witch bitch
I have been overwhelmed by the creativity inherent in the blog format of late, after first writing it off as just a geek fad. I have also taken my first steps towards understanding and using Java programming, which is sure to produce a creative explosion in my life over the next few years. I am bouyed by the fact that when I was a child, I could read and understand BASIC, and even write programs. If I could do it then, I can do it now -- and I will do it, one step at a time.

When it comes to learning languages, I am afraid I have been disheartened lately in my attempts at learning Japanese. Despite being here in Tokyo for nearly 3 years (the anniversary will be on November 11), I still find myself inept in the language. For a while I had virtually given up -- which was sad, given my high hopes at becoming a master of Japanese (and other languages beyond that!) I guess I was just being too hard on myself. This week, out of nowhere, I discovered my comprehension and speaking skills had suddenly advanced, as if I had taken a great leap forward. I have heard that this pattern of long periods of plateauing, followed by rapid bursts of progress, is a familiar one to students of foreign languages.

But whatever -- English is enough to get you by in most parts of the world, but I would love to speak a language like Japanese if only to watch Japanese movies and TV shows, and understand them. It would be cool! I took a step forward in this direction this week.

For the first time ever, and only because I was bored, I was able to watch an entire Japanese movie from beginning to end -- 90 minutes worth, with no English translation. And although I missed a lot of it, I still understood enough to keep me interested. It was like peering through a small window into a hidden and mysterious world -- for a brief time at least, the walls of culture were broken!

It happened on Channel Neco, one of the cable stations in Japan. This is what I understood, and it will give you an insight of the typical made-for-TV Japanese movie of the early 21st century:

A salaryman (office worker) is having a shitty day at work, and is even more pissed off to find it is raining when he comes out of his local train station on his way home. (Such a portrait of modern Japan: the railway station is the heart of modern Japanese life, and everybody here could emphasise with the predicament of being caught in the rain without an umbrella.) This was how it happened: the salaryman burst out of the train station on a dark and rainy night, and he didn't bear an umbrella. Luckily there was a guardian angel hovering in the wings -- make that read an evil kimono witch! She hurried across to him, an Asiatic Good Samatarian clad in traditional geta shoes. She offered him a berth under her umbrella. He took the bait. One step at a time, his world collapsed.

For more takes on the Great Deception, click here.

sunday, october 12, 2003 /// green tea high
ONE OF THE SUCKIER ASPECTS OF LIVING in Japan is that it is hard to find illicit drugs. Actually, there used to be this loophole in the law whereby you could legally buy magic mushrooms, which were advertised in newspapers and sold in special magic mushroom shops. But those days are over, and with it the pleasure of wandering the streets of Tokyo totally ripped, fascinated by the vibrancy and colour and whole CUTENESS of modern Japanese design. These days the only drug I abuse is beer, which is so easy to buy you can find it in vending machines, and which no doubt ruins the health more efficiently than the poor 'shrooms used to do -- the pathetic logic of the War on Drugs!

But I won't rant -- actually I like the fact that I am forced to abstain from marijuana, ecstasy and the like, for vast stretches of the year. As John Lennon once said, "Nothing beats being straight" -- and I think it is too easy in the west to lose your mind to drugs. In recent times I have become fascinated by the Japanese obsession with healthy living, and began drinking green tea, which can be found all over the place here. When I began drinking green tea, I did it for the health benefits, and as a substitute for drinking beer. I wasn't expecting to find that, like a cosmic joke, green tea was an intoxicant in itself. In short, GREEN TEA GETS YOU HIGH!

thursday, october 9, 2003 //// thai base camp
I HAVE BEEN THINKING LATELY that much as I like Japan, I would really like to spend a year or two in Thailand. It might be a silly thing to do now that my life has reached a "critical mass" here in Japan, and I am starting to experience some truly firstclass adventures. But nonetheless, I can't be content with mastering just one foreign country -- I wan to master them all! That is my International Vagabondist dream -- to be a global citizen, to live in countries all over the world at seemingly the same time, and to know exactly what is going on everywhere at an intimate level. At the same time, I want to publish the sum experience of my international adventures on the Internet in formats such as this blog, so that my life itself becomes a new kind of work of art -- life as a piece of art.

After three years in Japan my life here has begun to reach a "critical mass", and action is exploding all around me. But still I want more. If Japan is to be my "North East Asian basecamp #1", then Thailand will be the epicenter of my South East Asian life. Don't know when I am going to take the step of actually relocating there. But I have been thinking about it -- it's going to happen soon!

monday, september 29, 2003 /// a new hope
I WAS STARTING TO FEEL A LITTLE down about the Akiko Aftermath, and how she had gone off with that other guy for a whole week, even though she professed to like me as well. I was starting to figure her as a flake, like all the other flunkeys I have met in my life -- and frankly I wasn't expecting hear from her again. I had given up hope! But yesterday, after I had finished an English lesson inside Tokyo train station, and was tucking into a bland meal inside the huge underground Yaesu shopping mall (it was at Italian Tomato, a Meat Doria, 550 yen) a sudden wave of intuition came over me. I don't know why, I don't know how -- but I just knew that Akiko and the other guy has split up. They had broken up, and Akiko had realised that I was the better catch. Guess what -- I was right!

THIS IS WHERE THINGS get wierd and mystical, but I am still amazed that I instantly knew when Akiko split up with her boyfriend, even though it is scientifically impossible. There must be some paranormal explanation. As for me, I have this strange belief in cycles and that similar things regularly recur in my life. For instance, if one thing happens in on an October 5 one year, a similar thing happens on an October 5 the next year. My life is that symmetrical, I swear! Sometimes I can predict what is going to happen, just from the cycles! As you continue reading this weblog, I hope you will begin to see what I mean.

wednesday, september 27, 2003 /// tokyo's aquarium in the sky
JAPAN BEING THE STRANGE PLACE that it is, you expect to find all manner of odd things in even more unlikely places. Walking near my house yesterday I found a rusty old vending machine selling little cups of plum wine with a real plum floating in sweet homemade alcohol. It was cute! One of the more colourful things I have seen here is an aquarium which is actually located on the 8th or 10th floor of an office building. They have a penquin's enclosure which is literally on the edge of the roof, with a captive view of the Tokyo skyline. To see my photos of the place, click here.

saturday, september 20, 2003 /// akiko's ambush
I MET A JAPANESE girl called Akiko in Iceland and she invited me to visit her house in Tokyo, which I finally did on Saturday night (September 20, 2003). Actually it wasn't quite in Tokyo, but somewhat west of there -- a city called Hashimoto (橋本 in Japanese characters), another faceless Japanese habitation, although kind of charming in a concrete way. A little more leaf-life and houses than you would find in Tokyo. I met Akiko in Reykjavik, in the youth hostel -- and the fact that I met her in Iceland was an auspicious sign for me, what with the fascination I hold for that strange northern land. I figured that seeing her in Japan would both remind me of an Iceland and give me a chance to talk about what a cool place it was, provide a link between Iceland and Japan. The night I chose to visit her house there was a typhoon going on, which added an eery ambience and plenty of "rain-and-wind" category sound effects to an already eery night. There was also a small earthquake to add its usual mix of fear and wonder, and some people got hurt when the roof of a temple fell down on top of them. I was all set for a good time!

I arrived at the house about half-an-hour late, and felt guilty when I realised the whole family has delayed dinner so they could eat with me. There are three generations around the table including the grandmother with gummy mouth, shocking blue hair -- but a winning sense of humour! On TV they were watching a program about these young people going around the fish markets cutting up squids so they could eat the eyeballs, which the grandmother found hillarious. (This last sentence is actually not true -- we didn't watch the squid eyeball program until the following morning, but I am just changing a few things to make the story flow better. Call it an artistic licence!)

Getting to the point: dinner progressed smoothly, although I can never eat heartily when I am on a date -- and I kind of assumed it was a date of sorts, it felt like a wierd kind of date. We ate tempura, the Portuguese/Japanese battered fish and vegetable combo which I normally like -- but as I said, I was kinda nervous. 緊張した! After a bit of the usual chit and chat (I thought I performed well, got some laughs and impressed everyone with my poor Japanese!) all the adults announced they were going to bed and disappeared, and it was only me and Akiko left.

I was just wondering what was going to happen next!

THANKFULLY, I DIDN'T HAVE LONG to wait. Suddenly she said that she had to see her boyfriend the next day. I was initially disheartened, thinking that I got misread the situation, she said: "But what about you? Do you love me? How do I know you that you love me?"

I thought this was a little abrupt since it was only the third time I had seen her, but I said: "Of course I love you! I luuurve you!" and started holding her hand, which seemed to make a good impression. For a minute I thought I had wasted my time going to her house, but now things were starting to look more promising. I got some kissing action!

But what about the boyfriend? Omniously, he is a foreigner like me - - an English scoundrel. She kept saying: "I don't know what to decide? I like you both!"

vaultstream -- monday, september 29, 2003 /// garlic: the new love drug
...If u extract viagras ingriedient u will see that garlic is part of its content (sulfur compounds)of course Pffizer (the manufacturer of viagra won't admit it but it is there)U will notice that Arabs doesn't suffer from colds etc.and they usually have 2 or more kids (that ain't viagra-that's garlic). a tip to rid of garlic smell: . Mix 2 teaspoons of baking soda with 1 cup warm water. Drink this either before or within twenty minutes of completing a garlic laden meal. Yes, it tastes horrible, but three seconds of discomfort is worth skipping 8 hours of pasty mouth, garlic belches and embarrassing bad breath. The baking soda acts as a antacid in your stomach and prevents you from burping up garlic. It also acts as a deodorizer and kills the smell at the source. there it is....(all good things comes with a price)
Dr.Jim naturopath extraordinaire...

sumatra_by_steam -- october 2000 /// the hotman chronicles
...Singapore, which was kind of boring but refreshing in its vibrant Asianosity - I just felt glad to be free from the past and ready to start a new chapter in life, blah blah blah. I was the zero point -- hardly any possessions, no ties and a whole world to explore -- total freedom. Well, after a few days hanging round this Muslim cafe getting hostile looks from punja Singaporeans I decided I had enough, and caught a ferry to a small Indonesian island just offshore (Batam or Bintam, I can't remember which one). It's only one hour from Singapore but it's like entering another world - a somewhat scary world in a Malay headhunter kind of way -- an "edgy tropicana". After waiting a few hours at the ferry terminal being hounded by ripoff merchants I boarded a large boat sailing to the mainland of Sumatra -- I got ripped off by the ticket vendors, who charged me double what the Indo's were paying. Whatever -- being ripped off is part of the third world experience, but the whole atmosphere of the place was dicey. I began to wish I had stayed in Singapore, and I started thinking about how Australia and Indonesia had virtually been at war only a year before, and how I was the only white cunt in town. There were hundreds of people waiting to get on board, all loaded up with Singaporean TVs and the like, and as soon as the gates of the ferry opened there was this mad stampede to get on board. Like a piece of white trash in the garbage dump of the third world, I was carried by the crowd onboard.

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