Tokyo Damage Report

JAPANESE ARE HALF FALLEN by Nakajima Yoshimichi

This is a translation of a Japanese book. You can buy the original book here.

In 2005, professor Nakajima Yoshimichi published JAPANESE ARE HALF FALLEN (日本人を<半分>降りる), which was an amazing 250 page rant against all the signs and pre-recorded announcements that pervade Japanese society. Even better, he is totally aware that his beliefs mark him as a cranky old coot, and he embraces that persona, alternating between reasoned logical discourse and insulting his readers. As you will see, the book starts off as almost comedy-  he recounts all the times he has physically and verbally assaulted Japanese officials that are yelling into their megaphones!!!
But then he gets more philosophical in the second half of the book:  beyond the simple noise and arrogance of the constant loudspeaker announcements, what are they doing to peoples' minds? Nakajima argues that the "loudspeaker culture" infantilizes the Japanese people, creating a "comforting blanket" of rules and slogans, so that people don't develop any sense of individual responsibility (as adults do in all other countries):  people don't take responsibility for their own actions or try to help strangers in trouble, because "The stranger should just read the signs and listen to the announcements and they'll know what to do." Nakajima asserts that, on account of being raised by signs, announcements and slogans, Japanese people don't develop the ability to think critically or develop their own ideas. The constant slogans convince people through sheer repetition, rather than logic and debate. The idea of "consent"  is lost. 
Nakajima  likes to repeat himself, likes to dwell on the same themes with obsessive ferocity, which makes parts of the book dull. But on the other hand, the monotony of the writing drives home his point about the suffering of people who cannot ignore the monotony of their society. 
I'll be posting my translation of this book in 5 parts, starting with the introduction, here:


I’d like you to imagine that you’re in a fictional country. You enter a restaurant and immediately hear loudspeakers giving you instructions, warnings, requests and admonitions, and expressions of gratitude. It starts from the moment you push the door open, and the door says WELCOME! THANK YOU FOR VISITING US AGAIN! And then, from somewhere else, another pre-recorded tape saying, PLEASE WAIT HERE. A WAITER WILL ARRIVE MOMENTARILY. PLEASE TAKE A SEAT IN THE LOBBY. PLEASE WAIT HERE. A WAITER WILL ARRIVE MOMENTARILY. PLEASE TAKE A SEAT IN THE LOBBY. PLEASE WAIT HERE. A WAITER WILL ARRIVE MOMENTARILY. PLEASE TAKE A SEAT IN THE LOBBY.

The tape repeats indefinitely until a waiter finally appears. She smiles politely but says nothing, since the speakers do all the talking: PLEASE FOLLOW THE WAITER, HONORED CUSTOMER. PLEASE WALK BEHIND HER UNTIL YOU ARRIVE AT YOUR SEATS.

And then, when you arrive at your seats, yet another loudspeaker announces, YOUR TABLE NUMBER IS TEN. PLEASE BE SEATED. Then, TABLE TEN! PLEASE PRESS THE BUTTON WHEN YOU’D LIKE THE WAITER TO TAKE YOUR ORDER.

After you order, the waiter silently bows, once again without saying a thing. Instead, the loudspeaker announces, in a high-pitched, too-cute voice, THANK YOU FOR YOUR ORDER, HONORABLE TABLE TEN! PLEASE REMAIN SEATED UNTIL YOUR FOOD ARRIVES. Where is the speaker hidden? You can’t see it.




These instructions continue throughout the whole meal. And that’s not all. Some other customers are eating Japanese food, so they receive a separate set of instructions looping from different loudspeakers: PLEASE BE CAREFUL WHEN PULLING YOUR CHOPSTICKS APART! CHECK TO MAKE SURE YOUR HANDS ARE IN THE APPROPRIATE SPOT, AND THEN PULL STRONGLY APART USING BOTH HANDS. IF YOU WANT SUGAR, PLEASE TURN THE SUGAR JAR UPSIDE-DOWN OVER YOUR FOOD AND SHAKE IT, BUT NOT TOO HARD, AS YOU’LL GET TOO MUCH SUGAR.

To add to the absurdity, another exceptionally loud announcement adds: PLEASE DON’T TALK LOUDLY DURING DINNER AS IT COULD CAUSE ANNOYANCE TO THOSE AT NEIGHBORING TABLES.


The announcements, with their inorganic patter, become entangled with one another, making the atmosphere confused and dehumanizing. They begin to drown one another out, so that they lose all meaning. To compensate for this, they are all turned up in volume gradually. They swirl, echo, and careen above your heads, trapped as you are in this artificial, mechanical sound-hell!

But you’d like that restaurant, wouldn’t you? After all, you can’t choose any other kind of restaurant in this country. They all have the same sound environment.

What’s more, even if you are determined to complain to the manager about how you couldn’t enjoy the food, he will definitely not understand your point! “You’re the only one who complains about this. It’s all in your head!” he will say, as if gently setting you straight about something painfully obvious.

“But,” you press your case, “You can’t really defend announcements like ‘Here’s how to pull chopsticks apart’???”

The manager says, “Those announcements are for westerners, who often come here – we have to be kind to them.”

“OK fine,” you say, “But telling us to chew our food thoroughly? Are you mad?”

“Well now,” the manager says, “All our announcements are carefully selected, and that particular one is among the most popular. Parents of small children really like that one, because then they don’t have to scold the children themselves. In fact we get many requests for even more announcements of that sort: EAT YOUR VEGETABLES, or DON’T COMPLAIN ABOUT ‘I-LIKE-THIS-ONE-I-DON’T-LIKE-THAT-ONE’ and so on. We’re considering adding these announcements also.” And so on. The manager can answer all of your questions in this fashion, without batting an eye, as if the announcements were the most natural, logical thing in the world.

My wise readers are no doubt able to imagine all this.

Now I’d like you to imagine what it’s like to be me, in real life: every time I go on the bus, the train (especially shinkansen), the bank, department store, supermarket, parking lot, amusement park, or pretty much anywhere in Japan, I feel like I am in that fictional restaurant.

“What?” you say, “You think Japan is that extreme?” Well, you can go see for yourself if you’d like. Next lunch-break, go to any bank, or to Tokyo train station, and spend ten minutes listening to ALL the announcements. Now see for yourself how many speakers are bombing you with their sonic assaults. See for yourself how the announcements never end. See for yourself how few of them actually say anything useful. Then you’ll know the truth!


These sort of SOUNDS (in this book I use “sound” in the sense of, “the sounds with which I have a fucking problem.”) which I keep going on and on about . .. what do I propose to do about them? Well, frankly, there seems to be no solution or salvation for those of us whose “sound sensitivity level” is out of step with the majority. I should just give up, I suppose. Only those with an average “sensitivity level” can be comfortable in society. The rest of us either have to go live in a cave, or live in the world while suffering every single minute. We can’t do anything except complain amongst ourselves.

Our sufferings are three in number: FIRST, the actual SOUNDS that assault us at all times, everywhere. SECOND, the fact that nobody understands what we’re upset about causes more suffering. THIRD, our victim hood marks us as social outcasts, as people who are nothing but a burden on society. Our pain (all three varieties) – if it’s thought about at all – is considered funny. We’re the butt of the joke.

“Funny” is not, as you’d assume, the opposite of “serious” or the opposite of “painful.”  In fact, they’re all on the same vector. If person A is suffering from serious pain, that’s precisely what makes A funny to person B. The only time “serious” or “painful” is NOT funny is when it’s happening to YOU as well. If anything, sharing someone’s pain makes you TOO empathetic – you lose your sense of logic. But such situations are just an exception to the rule.

Even with something as horrific as the sarin-gas terror attacks, many Japanese people would joke about it: peering into their drinks, saying “Hmmm. Hope this doesn’t have sarin in it!” They joked about it – not because they didn’t understand that the terror victims felt pain – but because they personally weren’t victims of the attacks. This is the way humans deal with all sorts of pain. Even Hiroshima or Nagasaki can be the butt of jokes. Even Auschwitz. A young man committing suicide by jumping off a waterfall can be the butt of the joke. Philosophers and revolutionaries are often the butt of jokes, but no one more than the guy who writes a book with the totally futile, Quixotic premise of getting rid of all the SOUNDS.

(I’m talking about myself here!)

My BODY (in this book I use “body” in the sense of, “that part of me where my sensitivity lives.”) is in a state of psychic pain from all these “Do it like this! Don’t do it like that!” announcements. My BODY instinctively wants to refuse them. Whenever I go out, I use earplugs, and on top of those, I have headphones playing music . . . but still the SOUNDS penetrate! PLEASE DON’T ALL RUN ONTO THE TRAIN AT ONCE, AS IT CAN BE DANGEROUS. PLEASE DON’T ALL RUN ONTO THE TRAIN AT ONCE, AS IT CAN BE DANGEROUS. PLEASE DON’T ALL RUN ONTO THE TRAIN AT ONCE, AS IT CAN BE DANGEROUS. Hearing this sort of thing makes my BODY instinctively fly into a rage. Instinctively I fill with passionate hate, then wilt with embarrassment and powerlessness. The whole experience is exhausting and disgraceful. It’s real true suffering, so bad I almost want to cry. I’m really a sick man, but you treat me like I’m just the butt of a joke?!?

Right now, you’re furrowing your eyebrows, thinking to yourself, “I can’t make heads or tails of what he’s saying!” Well, take a look at your own life. Your mother told you, “Study harder! Have you finished your homework?” day in ,day out, with the same exact words. Do it like this! Don’t do it like that! Ten times a day, even! You got mad, didn’t you? And now, every day your wife nags at you, the same things, over and over: “Are you a lawyer yet? Are you still in bed? You should stop drinking!” Every day and every night! Don’t you start getting mad? Don’t you start to suffer a little? Don’t you want to say, “I get it already! Stop saying that already!” but even if you do, she definitely will not stop. If anything, she will grow even more fierce: “If I stop yelling at you, you’ll have no motivation to ever do anything! You’ll never fix your behavior on your own! If you want me to shut up, you should follow all my commands! Why haven’t you been promoted to section chief yet? Probably because I’m not reminding you enough how important that is! I’ve been too easy on you!”

Launching these violent words at you, salvo after unceasing salvo! You, who are bathed from dusk till dawn in this flood of abuse, wouldn’t you feel disgrace and shame after a while? Well, you know what? You’re funny! Your suffering and shame is funny to me!

HA HA HA HA, motherfucker!


I’ve let my theme expand too much. Let’s return to the matter of the SOUNDS. After a long time of suffering, a long time of activism, and a long time spent considering the situation, I finally had an insight: although our country is flooded with SOUNDS, in the West there are almost none. So in order to properly understand why our country is shaking with such fierce noise, we must first pause to compare our own “civilization level” to others.

The SOUNDS that fill me with a rage (which burns like hydrochloric acid!!!) seem to be central to our culture. Just as everyone likes to see the grand landscapes of nature and exciting scenes of the city, Japanese seem to need an audio scene at all times – what they call a “sound-scape.” So what I’d like to propose is: these meddlesome broadcasts are a unique point of our culture, and can be thought of as “JAPANESE CULTURAL NOISE.”

Here let me pause to address some objections you might have.

Yes, I’m aware that there is a lot of loudspeaker noise in various Asian countries, and the phenomenon is growing in Europe as well. And I’m afraid they might well catch up to us at some point. So I’m absolutely not saying “We should copy the West, the Western sound environment is better.”

This  ‘copy the West’ attitude began with the Meiji Restoration. And there’s still a lot of cultural critics who have this attitude. Even in daily life, I’m sorry to say I’m surrounded by such simple-minded people. And I’d like nothing more than to jump on the bandwagon, but my conscience won’t let me. It would be simply negligent to reduce my argument to just: “Copy the Western sound-scape!”

Certainly, as a Japanese citizen, I have a fervent desire to reduce the sound pollution, but I don’t want to be thought unpatriotic by my fellow countrymen. I know the majority doesn’t share my views, and I’m not such a fool that I would try to force everyone to be hyper-sensitive like me.

Of the Japanese who do share my views, I’m aware that most are professors, artists, authors, musicians, architects, in other words, the kind of people who have spent time in the West. To say nothing of translators or other people who make a living speaking Western languages. 

When this kind of ‘elite’ person asks for quiet, people instinctively get mad based on ‘elitist source’ of such comments, without really listening to the substance. People naturally think, “Oh, he’s trying to enlighten us dumb masses! What an attitude this guy has!” or, “Being sensitive to the SOUNDS is a mark of being very high-class, so I guess they must think we’re very low-class and insensitive.” This angers people, especially in a country like Japan, where equality is very important. And getting accused of such sentiments cuts me to my very marrow, so I want to be careful here.

“You sure like listening to yourself talk about nothing – I never met a man with so much free time as you!”

“If you like Europe so much, why don’t you move there?”

Honestly, communication is just getting more and more difficult.

This instinctive anger of the MASSES (in this book I use “masses” in the sense of, “the majority of Japanese who are tolerate the SOUNDS, or who think that it has nothing to do with them”) is only natural, I think.

The MASSES – they walk through this daily shower of “behavior management broadcasts”, with their “do this, do that!” messages, quietly, obediently, as if nothing is amiss. And after much reflection, I’ve realized: I can’t deny that I don’t respect the MASSES. Not only that, but if you put it to me that I scorn them, I couldn’t deny that, either. I think I’m in the right, and that’s that. So there it is, I’m arrogant. I want to blame the MASSES, then enlighten them, then lead them to the “correct” way. If that’s not arrogance, what is?

After more self-reflection, I’ve also realized that, in my arrogance, my reckless and indiscriminate blaming of everyone, that I might have hurt some feelings. Probably I’ve hurt a lot of people with my protests and yelling. Even my business card, with its pompous title of “TELECOMUNICATIONS UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR AND PHILOSOPHER” probably repels more people than I can count.

I know this. And I really hate myself for it. But I can’t quit my campaign. Why is that?

It’s not easy for me to keep fighting. And I’m positive that it’s not easy for me to hurt you thick-skinned people. I’m confident that I’m the number-one victim here. I’m positive that my struggle will never end, and confident that I’ll lose. 
But, self-consciousness of one’s own futility is a prerequisite for being Don Quixote! It’s this self-consciousness that gives me the courage to continue tilting at the windmill named Japan!

This concludes the introduction to JAPANESE ARE HALF FALLEN. I will be back next time with all of Chapter One.
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 While reading all those "explaining the dark side of Japan" books I posted about a while back, I noticed that most of the authors used really fucked-up, depressing kotowaza (old sayings) to show the traditional roots of self-defeating Japanese behaviors. These kotowaza are important because they are the only things that directly express  deep cultural assumptions that are usually hidden. Also they're hilarious.


Of course, all cultures have sexist/racist/just plain rude old sayings. Children should be seen and not heard!  And not all "old sayings" are actually indicative of how most people in the culture feel ("If she's old enough to bleed, she's old enough to breed.").  So, keeping that in mind. . . .




mukoumizu no kanshakumochi

truly women are reckless and hot-tempered

tsuma wa shita yori erabubeshi, tomo wa ue yori erabu beshi

Choose a wife from a lower station in life, and friends from a higher station in life.

kawaii ko wa bou de sodateyo

spare the rod and spoil the child (lit.: raise your beloved child with a stick)


Onna sannin yoreba kashimashii

wherever three women gather it is noisy (this is a pun based on the kanji for noisy, which consists of , literally, three women)


yuujo no makoto to tamago no shikaku wa nai

a sincere whore no more exists than does a square egg

[おんなのちえはさるじえ, onna no chie wa sarujie] a woman’s wisdom is monkey wisdom

nyoubo to kutsu wa furui ga ii

wives and shoes are better when old (i.e.once they have been "broken in")

compare to . . .


nyoubo to tatami wa atarashii ga ii

wives and tatami mats are better when new (i.e.: they are more attractive)


nakanu neko wa nezumi o toru

the cat that does not cry catches mice


Kiji mo nakazuba utaremai

the pheasant that keeps its mouth shut is least likely to get shot


Iwanu ga hana

lit: Not-speaking is the flower. (i.e. some things are better left unsaid;
Silence is golden)


Yabu wo tsutsuite hebi wo dasu

 Poke around in a bush and a snake will come out.

wazawai wa kuchi yori kitaru

misfortune comes from the mouth (i.e.: the words we speak, which cannot be taken back once spoken, cause great harm)

  waratte sonshita mono nashi

there is no loss to be had by laughing  (i.e. better to laugh since complaining might cause offense)

  mimi tookereba inochi nagashi

a deaf person lives long (since they don't hear what they're not supposed to)

tori o nakazuba uraremaji

there is safety in silence

kao ga kokoro no kagami

the face is the mirror of the heart (so the average Japanese person keeps a calm face) (interesting and depressing because other cultures, like  (at the risk of offending folks) Mediterranean cultures believe the same exact thing, but draw the exact opposite conclusion: the face is the mirror of the heart SO one should accentuate one's speech with  dramatic facial expressions) The Japanese interpretation of this idiom is not just colder but much more paranoid: the heart is something you DON'T want people to see.

  kenka ryouseibai

when two quarrel, both are in the wrong

aite no nai kenka wa dekinu

you cannot have a fight alone


These last two are both tied to the concept of "wa". Usually "WA" is  translated as "harmony" but as you can see – wa really means "blame the girl who got punched for shattering the harmony".  Wa makes no distinctions between perpetrator and victim.



Kaeru no ko wa kaeru

A frog's son is still a frog

motoki ni masaru uraki nashi

no branch surpasses the trunk; no fountain can rise higher than its source



Binbou nin no ko takusan
The poor have a lot of children


Matsudai no haji!

Samurai insult: “the shame till the last generation of the IE”

mi wa ichidai, na wa matsudai

life is for one generation, a good name is forever

nikumarekko yo ni habakaru

the world shuns a hated child (n.b.: but such children often grow up into people with strong personalities, for better or worse)

nikumarekko yo ni habikoru

a hated child will run wild through the world (n.b.: he may therefore be successful and live a long life, though often becoming arrogant in the process)


toshiyori ni hiyamizu:

“like cold water drunk by an elderly person”.

Japanese believe that drinking cold water makes olds cramp up and get sick.

This expression means, “Old folks should not try to have an active life or go out and have fun since they will only get hurt and it’s their own fault.”



Kusai mono ni futa
To put a lid on something that stinks (mentally or physically handicapped family member, for instance. Or one's own sexual abuse, domestic violence situation. Remember what I said about wa?)

nou aru taka tsume o kakusu

the capable hawk hides his claws; a talented person is modest

deru kui ga utareru

don’t make waves; don’t rock the boat, (lit.: the protruding peg gets pounded down) Used to indicate that being distinct, different, or obvious is not a good thing.

Most gaijin think that this means specifically THEM: people who are different looking or have an obviously different lifestyle. But actually, it's even more fucked: "Deru kui" traditionally refers to regular-looking people, ethnic Japanese people, who are doing socially acceptable jobs . . . . but they do the jobs BETTER or FASTER than their co-workers, which makes the co-workers jealous. That's it.


Yanagi ni kaze.

A will before the wind. (i.e. Follow the path of least resistance.)


Sato ni haitte ha sato ni shitagae

Literal: Entering the village, obey the village.


U wo mane suru karasu mizu ni oboreru.

“The crow that mimics a cormorant is drowned.”

ichijou no ya wa orubeku, juujou wa orubekarazu

in union there is strength (lit.: one arrow may break, but ten will not)

kazu ookereba, anzen nari

there is safety in numbers


akashingo, minna de watareba kowakunai

“red light: if we all cross together we have nothing to fear.” Apparently this one is used by drunk beuracrats behaving badly.


kaze ni mukatte tsuba suru

He  who spits against the winds spits in his own face


korobanu saki no tsue

taking all necessary precautions (lit.: a walking stick before you fall)


Hitomishiri wo suru
lit: Look at people and know.

Wait and see what everyone else thinks.

abunai koto wa kega no uchi

 lit.:  dangerous things invite wounds

homerareru yori soshirareru

rather than being praised, avoid being slandered

According to the book INSIDE THE KAISHA, this belief motivates most of Japanese decision making. For instance, if you are working at  any organization (from a rock band to a major corporation), and you notice a faster, better way to do things, you think to yourself "If i try it the new way and fuck up, I will never in a million years be forgiven for deviating from the path. But even if my new way is a huge success, I will not really get a lot of credit or praise for it." That's why Japanese society is so slow to correct its faults: there is no incentive to innovate.

minu ga hana

not to see is a flower (i.e. ignorance is bliss)

mi no hodo o shire

literally; know the boundaries of your own body (i.e. know your limits)

ishibashi o tataite wataru

cross a stone bridge by tapping on it  (i.e. be very cautious, to; be doubly cautious)

nen niwa nen o ire

one cannot be too careful 


ryouba wa benei o mite yuku

ryouba hito-muchi


a good horse runs by watching the shadow of the whip (i.e.: the horse needs only the slightest instruction as to what to do)

(a smart person will know what to do even with very little instruction)

ichi o kiite, juu o shiru

a word to the wise is sufficient (lit.: hearing one and knowing ten)

Again according to INSIDE THE KAISHA, this (and not sheer stubbornness) is why most salarimen work such long hours: if the boss hints that maybe he wants to know about minerals for tomorrow's meeting, it's the responsibility of his staff to prepare 100 reports on every concievable type of mineral, regardless of if that's what the boss actually wanted. Because to just ASK him would be unbearably rude.



hosoku nagaku

slender and long (describes a long and frugal life)

mi o koroshite jin o nasu

lit :  a candle lights others and consumes itself (i.e. sacrifice one’s life to do good)

enryou hidaruishi, date samushi

 lit.: being reserved makes one hungry, and being a showoff makes one cold

  nagaiki sureba haji ooshi

 if you live a long life, you will have much to be ashamed of

kerai o naraneba, kerai o tsukaenu

lit.: you cannot use a retainer unless you have been a retainer (i.e. by obeying we learn to command)

asobi-nin ni hima nashi

pleasure seekers have no leisure (their time is consumed by all their activities)



Ishi no ue nimo sannen

Lit: Sitting on a stone for three years. (i.e. endure a shitty job  or terrible athletics club or general peer hazing for three years, THEN decide if you like it or not)

naranu kannin suru ga kannin

to endure what is cannot be endured is true endurance (i.e.: bearing what is unbearable is true forbearance)



Sen’yu koraku

first distress, later pleasure



“Silent worms dig holes in the walls.”

Anyone know the Japanese for this one?

壁に耳あり、障子に目あ り
kabe ni mimi ari, shouji ni me ari

 the walls have ears and the paper screens [shouji] have eyes.

shinin ni kuchi nashi

 a dead person has no mouth

hiru niwa me ari, yori niwa mimi ari

the day has eyes, the night has ears


magaraneba yo ga watarenu

unless you are crooked, you cannot get along in the world

makereba zoku

lit.: if defeated, you are a traitor (i/e/ history goes to the victors)

rika no kanmuri o tadasazu

lit.: do not adjust your tiara while under a peach tree (i.e.: do nothing suspicious when you might be seen by others)

yuushou reppai

lit.: the superior wins, the inferior fails (i.e. survival of the fittest)



Shiranu ga hotoke.

Lit: Not knowing is Buddha. (i.e. Ignorance is bliss. / What you don’t know can't hurt you)


Soron sansei, kakuron hantai

in general, yes. In this case, no. (the core of the so-called "situational morality" of the Japanese)


Makeru Ga Kachi

Sometimes the best gain is to lose

fuku wa uchi, oni wa soto

in with fortune, out with demons (said on the festival Setsubun)

It's just a kid's game, but that didn't stop me from getting into a huge fight with my girlfriend over the issue of :"Is childhood really the best time to teach people to hate outsiders?"

She was like, "No, the outsiders are demons, so that's ok. And we try to bring good luck inside!" I was like, "Yeah, exactly! Can you really not see why that might push a button on outsiders like me?"

inochi no sentaku

lit.: laundering of life (a very feudal way of referring to recreation, fun. . .you know. . .WHAT LIFE IS SUPPOSED TO BE) Just give the peasants enough recreation so they don't rebel, and then return them to the fields. . .

yoitewa honshou o arawasu

when drunk people reveal their true selves



Tabi no haji wa kakisute

on a journey, cast off shame (I assume this is the one said by businessmen going on sex tours in Thailand?)



Shinto mekkyaku sureba hi mo mata suzushi

clear your mind of mundane thoughts and you will find even fire cool.




Tenjo tenga yuiga dokuson

in heaven and in earth, only I am lord.

What does that even mean??



Mukashi no joushiki wa ima no doutoku

yesterday's common sense is today's moral. Meaning that some people follow some rules with great self-righteousness, without even understanding the real reason for the rule anymore.

My pal's grand-dad explained this one to me, but I can't find it anywhere on google.


Kareki mo yama no nigiwai.

Better a dead tree on a mountaintop than no tree at all. Imagine all the faces of the kids that heard THAT one.


rengi de hara kiru

lit.: commit harakiri with a pestle (i.e. do something in an ineffective way)

  ikimi wa shi ni mi

to live is to die (lit.: a living body is a dying body)

for a huge dictionary of kotowaza (not all depressing) go here (all in japanese, I'm afraid. . . .)


mp3 post: old dirty bastard edits

OK – here is about 100 songs where ODB had one verse, edited down to JUST his verses. The kids probably have a name for this sort of thing.


This includes all the Wu albums, but it's mostly one-off random collabos. Part two also has the whole Osirus mixtape edited down. Honestly man that Osirus was kind of a rip-off. If you only have 8 bars of ODB, don't copy and paste it until the song is 3 minutes.


 part one

part two


JAPAN BOOK REVIEW #12 : absolute erotic, absolute grotesque by Mark Driscoll


Yet another book about "erotic grotesque" where the author arbitrarily invents his own meanings for those two words. Ero refers to evil capitalists manipulating peoples’ natural urges for a better life, using biological drives to make fat profits. Guro refers to the cruelty of colonial slave labor and drug addiction.

Main points of the book:

1) Techniques that were invented in the far-flung colonies by Japanese yakuza and criminals then got copied and institutionalized by the “legitimate” Japanese colonial governments, and then finally got implemented in mainland Japan during the war years. From criminal to “legitimate businessman” to official government policy.

2) Most of the "sophisticated, modern" cultural trends of Tokyo in the `20s and `30s actually started in the very rural colonies. And from the periphery of the empire they spread to the center.



  • Gangster capitalism
  • "Sexology"
  • Industrialized prostitution (karayuki to ianfu to  jappayuki)
  • Japanese-style Feminism
  • Fascism and centrally planned war economy
  • Grotesque as entertainment (particularly war porn and drugs)

3) The whole Japanese empire would not have been possible without organized crime laying the foundation and, in some cases, providing the capital for running entire nations' puppet governments.


4) Having an empire isn't as simple as just saying, "OK, I killed your army, now all your stuff belongs to me!".  In Taiwan, Japan took over without a shot, but they had to find a way to turn an expensive military occupation and giant administrative staff into a profitable colony. And in Korea and Manchuria, Japan spent DECADES in a state of SEMI colonization. . . they could trade, they had some cops there to "protect the traders",  but they didn't own the country outright. So how to turn semi-colonization into REAL colonization?  BUSINESS AS WARFARE.  That's the middle step I never knew about.

5)  If you read the book and live in America, it's hard not to see parallels between BUSINESS AS WARFARE and what is going on right now.


Anyway, instead of a review of the book, I decided to do something different this time:

a TIMELINE, to help you when you read the book. A supplement or something.


Meiji Restoration overthrows the Shogun government. Also a major goal of the restorers: open Japan to trade with the world. Not just to compete with Whitey, but also they aim to win a trade war with China, which at that time was THE king of all Asian commerce. But how? The Chinese have literally thousands of years of experience in international trade, and Japan has like 2 weeks of experience.


 Korea signs the Treaty of Ganghwa, allowing Japan to trade at four port cities. Basically Japan pulled a Perry and Black Shipped the formerly closed country of Korea.


Chinese pimps operating out of Japanese port cities kidnap poor Japanese women and ship them to brothels in China. These women are known as karayukisan (kara being an old word for China, yuki meaning, to go to)


Japanese are allowed to settle and do trade in all of Korea. Although in practice only the tekiya (fore-runners of the Yakuza, tekiya were organized clans of traveling merchants pushing carts full of iffy merch. You can still see them at festivals) really bothered to make the trip. The tekiya would use violence and intimidation to coerce Koreans into buying shoddy goods and fake medicines. They were “soon joined by drug traffickers and sex workers.” All backed up by the official Japanese consulates, who would “protect” them from retaliation by the Korean citizens. Even though Korea was still run by the Korean government. The more money the thugs made, the more they could spend on lobbying the Japanese government for more “protection”, which would allow them to rip off even more Koreans. Another fore-runner of the yakuza, the bakuto, also showed up in Korea. Originally traveling gamblers, in Korea the bakuto did predatory lending scams, loan-sharking, and so on, which always ended in them foreclosing on Korean farmers’ land, helping Japan colonize one rice paddy at a time.

1887 – 

Muraoka Iheiji was hired by the Japanese consulate in Shanghai to travel around China and make a secret report about money-making opportunities : businesses and industries that Japanese businessmen could try to muscle in on. At this time, most trade was flowing from China to Japan and the Japanese government wanted to reverse this trend. Muraoka quickly realized that the biggest moneymaking opportunity was in prostitution and human trafficking. After he finished the report, he resigned from government service, to become a pimp and kidnapper.


Japanese pimps and human traffickers fight it out with the Chinese, for domination of the karayuki business.  Pimps like Muraoka are outraged that Chinese are kidnapping “their women” and vow to “save them” from these gaijin – by re-kidnapping them and selling them at a profit to other Japanese pimps. Muraoka relates several stories in his autobiography about going to Hong Kong and snitching on a Chinese brothel to British police. The Brits shut down the brothel and hand over all the workers . . . to Muraoka.

On more than one occasion, a whole group of kidnapped women was found dead in the locked boiler room of a ship – a scene straight out of The Wire.

One estimate is that between between 1870 and 1930, around 100,000 Japanese women are kidnapped and sold into sexual slavery.

One Japanese ship captain is quoted as saying, “Japan’s most well-known exports are coal, raw silk, and women.”

As the Japanese pimps spread their business and brothels throughout east Asia, other Japanese merchants follow – setting up small stores to sell overpriced Japanese goods to the karayuki and their customers. The pimps regard themselves as patriotic, and are proud that they are enabling Japanese to expand their trade overseas.

“The prostitutes needed JPanese food, beverages, clothes and many other Japanese products. Their demand was met by the J-variety-goods store,which peddled a wide range of products. As the store also sold to non-Japanese, Japanese commodities became wildly popular. The strength of Japan’s southeast Asian trade today is not thanks to the large merchant houses like Mitsui; the trade was first developed by the variety-goods dealers and behind these merchants is the shadow cast by the Japanese prostitutes.


Japan wins a fight with China and is given Taiwan as part of the booty. However, the question remains: how do we turn this expensive military occupation into a profit?

(also, as part of the booty: all Chinese merchants have to leave Korea, putting it more under the thumb of Japan and ruthless, yakuza-connected Japanese traders).


The civilian doctor Goto Shinpei is appointed governor of Taiwan. He likes to use the native Chinese principles to govern the natives. He uses spin rather than  brute force: he re-interprets Chinese sayings and customs to justify Japanese rule in terms the Taiwanese can accept. Also he legalizes opium, and immediately grants the Japanese government a monopoly on it. Thereby solving the “profitability” problem. Opium is pretty much the one single commodity that turned Taiwan from a huge money loser to a money earner in seven years. The USA couldn’t do that with all the oil in Iraq in 10 fucking years.


Japan wins a fight with Russia, and by way of apology, Russia gives Japan part of China. How the fuck does that even work??? Anyway Japan now has a bit of Manchuria under its direct control. But they also got the Russian-made Manchurian RAILWAY as part of the deal. So now they’re in this weird position of being SEMI colonial overlords. They only own a tiny slice of China outright, but millions of miles of railway, and the right to set up trade and businesses in all the cities the railway goes to. But in those cities, although “Chinese” in theory, are run by puppet regimes, who allow the Japanese secret police to run rampant. Thus, Japanese citizens and “businessmen” can break any laws and get away with things native Chinese can’t do. This climate attracts every Yakuza, tekiya, mercenary, pimp, and nutcase who has not been nailed down. The issue is: how to parlay this trade agreement with China into outright colonialism?

Another funny thing about Manchuria: there weren’t even many Chinese there. Most of the Chinese who WERE there were immigrants from the center of China. The fact that they were immigrants made them more easy to exploit, and added to the general feeling of Manchuria as being a free-for-all anarchy zone, not a “real” state.


First answer is: legalize prostitution and put a Japanese monopoly on it. By this time, Japanese pimps and human traffickers have pretty much beat the Chinese. The pimps had gotten their start providing prostitutes to the Japanese army during its 1905 war with Russia. The 1906 “legalization” law re-tooled the industry for civilian life, and mandated monthly health inspections.

Second thing : Japanese government creates the South Manchurian Railway corporation. This was supposed to function like the Dutch East India Company, as the main tool of colonizing. It’s technically a business but operates like an independent fiefdom or small government.

Also, Goto moves from Taiwan to Manchuria to run the SMR, bringing with him his “scientific” principles for making Chinese colonies profitable. Principle number one : bunsouteki bubi (literally, “military arms in civilian disguises”). In other words, business as warfare.


ex-prime minister and ex-governor of Taiwan Katsura Tarou, starts the Oriental Society (Touyou Kyoukai), a sort of policy group dedicated to coordinating different aspects of Japan’s imperialism (military, diplomatic, business, crime, etc.) Well he didn’t start it, but he changed the name from Taiwan Society to Oriental Society.  Katsura’s #1 priority: taking Mr. Goto’s profitable hookers-opium-Japanese-medicine-and-Chinese-philosophy program and implementing it in other colonies. He also wants to get Japanese farmers to come and settle in the territories, much as Israel is doing in Palestine, so that the Japanese can say, “We legitimately belong here, this is our ancestral land.” This program doesn’t work out because who wants to farm when you can just steal? 


Korean “armies of righteousness” attempt to fight back, but lose.


The independent, self-employed frontier women in Taiwan, and Manchuria basically invent Japanese feminism, which later spreads to the mainland. Japanese men run things behind the scenes, but the women are the “public face” of Japanese trade, since they are the ones that actually learned how to speak Chinese and they work in occupations where Chinese are the customers.  Nurses, hairdressers, schoolteachers, small businesswomen and shop owners, social workers, and police.

In other words, the colonies were not only for Yakuza and men to go to seek their fortune, and rise above their lowly social class: plenty of Japanese women made the trip too, for those same reasons.

This presents a dilemma for the Japanese men: they like that Japanese women are putting a nice, kind face on the colonialism, and they like all the money the women are making for the motherland. But they don’t like how “their” women are too friendly with the natives, and learning too many Chinese customs. Thus there are a lot of predictable scandalous articles about “hysterical” women. This buzzword ALSO eventually catches on in Tokyo womens' magazines, AFTER it is popular in the colonies.



Japan conquers Korea. I’m not sure how this went down. I think they didn't invade but just intimidated the Korean emperor into signing a treaty?

1911 :

after six years, the main infrastructure in Manchura is completed. Millions of miles of train tracks have been added, and gigantic, super-advanced ports have been constructed. Now all they need is some Japanese investors and big businesses to come in and take advantage of the infrastructure (and the almost free coolie labor) and Japan can basically double its economy. If they can find investors and companies. Help!


The Japanese government hires Mr. Aioi to do a report on Manchuia, to persuade Japanese businesses to come there and start milking this here cow. Aioi reports that there’s now over a million immigrant coolies in Manchuria, they work dirt cheap, and what little wages you pay them, you can get back by selling them Japanese stuff. In fact most coolies are so poor, they cannot afford even dormitory housing and they sleep outside in the bitter cold. Migrants from central china traveling to Manchuria by boat not only sleep in the hold, but are classified on shipping documents as a type of cargo.


Journalist Ishimori Seiichi writes a bunch of really unique articles for the KOREA REVIEW tabloid. He goes undercover as : a North Chinese coolie, an elderly Korean male drifter in Seoul, a Japanese hooker in Seoul, a French detective tracking Russian criminals in Manchuria and Russia, an elderly Russian man in Dailan, and a poor Japanese migrant worker in Seoul. Aside from being brave, crazy, and super “Black Like Me” style, the popularity of Ishimori’s articles reveal a sort of paradox of his readers’ state of mind: colonial Japanese want to dominate the natives, but they also kind of dream of wanting to be the natives, to be “down,” to see what only the natives want to see. They want Japan to take over Asia and “civilize” it, but also delight in the down-and-out perversion, violence, and ghetto craziness of the frontier.

1913 –

The magazine KOREA REVIEW has a monthly column called KIKI KAIKAI HENGEN SHUTSU BOTSUSEN (STRANGE UNCANNY ILLUSIONS THAT APPEAR AND DISAPPEAR) by Ishimoi Seiichi. This column – far from saying colonies are great – does exposes on the most gritty, ghetto, wild-west parts of colonial life. But this makes it much more popular than simple propaganda would have been.  Hysterical women, female gangsters, black markets, corrupt colonial authorities, Chinese warlords,  Russian gangsters, and all.



Nakamura Kyoko starts a sexology journal called ABNORMAL PSYCHOLOGY, which runs until 1926, kicking off the “sexology boom.” He says lot of things, but the main one to remember here is: modern living makes everyone hentai, and that’s ok.


Japanese human traffickers now kidnapping Chinese women. The number of pimps / traffickers in North China is estimated to be around 400. One pimp is later quoted after the war as saying that “2/3 of the big Japanese businesses in Manchuria were started by former pimps who made enough money to go legit.”

The “Oriental Development Company” (run by Katsura Taro’s Oriental Society), which is supposed to be encouraging Japanese farmers to move to Korea, is actually replacing yakuza groups as the main Japanese landlord, in taking over family-owned Korean farms. Less than 50% of Koreans own their own land at this point. This is an example of “business practices” moving from the yakuza/underworld to becoming official Japanese colonial policy.


World War One is over. Japanese Big Pharma companies,who have made a mint off of selling morphine to European armies, now dump their excess supplies in the Japanese colonies, serving the dual purpose of “pacifying and incapacitating the colonized while making huge profits for the colonizers.” In Korea, Japanese government outlaws opium, and legalizes morphine. “In a few short years, 100,000Koreans were addicted.” Flooding Manchuria with cheap dope also pays dividends when Japan finally decides to conquer Manchuria in 1931.

Koreans again attempt to overthrow the Japanese colonial government. The army suppresses them, killing around 7,000.

Kitano Hiromi starts another sexology monthly journal: SEX RESEARCH (SEI NO KENKYUU)

1920s :  

modernism hits Japan! Movies! Magazines! Western fashions! Cafes! flappers! Jazz! Many new leisure time pursuits. But all this stuff is made possible by three things: opium, karayuki, and coolie labor. In other words, semi-illegal totally exploitative industries IN THE COLONIES. The profits from which finance the modernization of Japan. So even though modernism is often seen as something that filtered out from Tokyo, actually it filtered INTO Tokyo from the colonies. After all, leisure time is something you do if you have money left over to spend on fun. And that money has to come from somewhere.

Another effect of modernism: people instantly become jaded as fuck. Urban dwellers have such hectic, fast-paced lives compared to the country villages. And they’re exposed to such nonstop stimuli all day: traffic sounds, neon lights, beeps, honks, the clank of machinery, and so on. So, the thinking goes, urbanites get super desensitized by all this and crave ever more extreme thrills in their new leisure time. Plus they are super stressed out by living cheek-to-jowl with a million strangers, in defiance of millions of years of human nature. And so they seek out sexual perversions to release some of the crazy urban tension building up inside them. Thus is born the ERO BOOM. And a whole cottage industry of “sexology” magazines – some more scientific, some more tabloid – to explain about all the new urban perversions, and how they are necessary to make urban life, with all its stress and neuroses, bearable.

Also, Japanese sexology was very pro-prostitution and pro-hentai. The “sexologists” generally thought Western morality re:maritial fidelity was naive and that seeing as how guys were going to cheat anyway, the superior Japanese way to deal with the issue was to industrialize and governmentally control prostitution the same way that Japan was industrializing all its other industries at the time.

Also, Japanese scientists in Harbin, China, start mass-producing heroin and morphine, which are cheaper than traditional opium. Addicts now have three opiates to choose from.


Akiyama Yoshio and Sawada Junjirou launch yet another sexology monthly, just called SEX. Unlike the previous sexology journals, SEX is Eurocentric. That is to say, more sex-phobic : moralizing, preaching, and openly “hey, look at all the freeeeaks!!!”


Tanaka Kougai, one of the main “sexologists” starts his climb to fame by publishing the journal MODERN SEXUALITY (HENTAI SEIYOKU). His articles are often about “frontier women” as hysterics, Chinaman-lovers and “female supremacists.” As well as s/m, vampires, and cannibalism. Also: Tanaka was a doctor who used to work with Goto (the doctor who ran Taiwan and later the South Manchuria Railway company).

Habuto Eiji starts (sigh) yet another sex journal called SEXUALITY AND HUMAN NATURE (SEIYOKU TO JINSEI). This one is also more Eurocentric. That is to say, more moralizing, preaching, and sensationalistic.


Tanaka publishes a book, THE SHADOWY ASPECTS OF HUMAN SEXUALITY (NINGEN NO SEITEKI ANKOKUMEN), and a scholarly sexology magazine MODERN SEXUALITY, in which he argues that, given the stress of modern industrial livin’ , it’s not only natural to legalize prostitution, but also sadism, masochism, fetishism, and necrophila. Necrophilia and fetishism are like other new modern inventions that entertain urban dwellers: movies, radio, and French cafes. And if we get all prudish and shut off the sexual “safety valve” of necrophilia, then we’re REALLY going to see some weird sex-crimes happening. Or something.

In MODERN SEXUALITY, the “modern” refers to this new, decadent, industrial-capitalism urban lifestyle. Tanaka says basically, modern city living makes everyone a perv, and that’s just fine, since sex can also be industrialized. New perversions are being rolled off the assembly line of our culture daily, let’s embrace them! (provided that cash changes hands. Doing it outside the marketplace would be simply barbaric and abnormal – now THAT’S hentai!)


Edogawa Ranpo publishes a novel called HUMAN CHAIR (NINGEN ISU), a surreal critique of capitalism in which a chair-maker at a furniture factory becomes so obsessed with the commodities he makes that he eventually turns into a chair himself.

Not to be outdone, Umehara Hokumei publishes the most fucked up, most ero-guro novel of the whole era (immediately censored by The Man, only 100 copies printed, and even those have most of the cannibalism cut out): SATSUJIN KAISHA (THE KILLING KAPITALIST KONGLOMERATE). This is about a guy who works for a company (which operates mostly in the colonies, naturally) that sells only one product: death. They kill the clients, take their stuff, and then return to Tokyo to have wild sex-and-death-and-opium orgies. There are secret initiations, rapes, murders, necrophilia, mah jongg games where the loser gets disemboweled and then people have an orgy on the corpse’s intestines, etc. In one way this seems to be kind of just shock-for-the-sake-of-shock, but in 1924, this must have been some crazy shit indeed. Like if GWAR happened at the same time as Elvis or something. Also interesting: even though Umehara was trying to write satire, actually the stuff that REAL Japanese corporations were soon to do in Manchuria would make the novel look like some Garrison Kellor shit.


Tanaka publishes a book called SEX MANIACS (AIYOKU NI KURUU CHIJIN), advocating for industrialized prostitution: how can the nation harness men’s desire for sex to grow our economy?

Kon Wajiro, a sociologist, starts a new movement: “modernology”: he and his team of assistants do “field work” in Tokyo department stores (department stores were a new thing back then) and write down every little detail of shoppers’ behavior: posture, what they buy, what they wear, the routes they take, etc. Honestly this guy is boring.

Umehara Hokumei takes over the art journal ARTS MARKET and openly says “Fuck you artists who cry ‘sellout’ – you’re just jealous because no one wants to pay cash for your stuff. In these sophisticated times, people will pay good money for subversive or even left-wing art, if you have any talent. Let the market decide what is good art! We can change the system from within and make some loot while we’re at it!”

Umehara publishes a super controversial translation of Italian author Boccaccio’s THE DECAMERON, which basically had a huge influence on all subsequent ero-guro authors, artists, critics, etc.

A drug dealer (pen-name GIONBOU) writes an autobiography, where he talks about how the Japanese consul and Japanese police keep him from getting hassled by the Chinese police when he comes into Chinese turf to buy and sell heroin. Why are there two sets of police in the same cities? Driscoll doesn’t say. Further, the drug dealer says that the Japanese-run South Manchurian Railway actually helps him smuggle his product. He goes on to say that over half, and in some places almost all, of Japanese merchants in Chinese cities are in the drug game to some extent.

1927  –

Umehara and his friend Sakai Kiyoshi spend a year in Shanghai, getting into opium and Chinese hookers, and generally trying to out-do each other in feats of degeneracy. They launch KAMASHASTRA, an ero-guro magazine specifically for Japanese living in the colonies. It’s about what you think it’s about.

KAMASHASTRA starts a new trend which catches on in all the ero-guro magazines: drug reports! “I traveled to an actual, no-foolin’ opium den with crazy Chinese junkies!!!” type of gonzo journalism. These gritty, dirty, grimey accounts of Chinese junkies were a new way to shock and titillate Japanese ero-guro audiences. And again, this new layer of grotesque came FROM the colonies INTO Tokyo “modern” society.

Edogawa Ranpo publishes THE STRANGE TALE OF PANORAMA ISLAND (PANORAMA TOUKIDAN), a horror novel about a guy who fakes his own death in order impersonate a rich kid who inherits his own island. And then he populates the island with the taxidermied bodies of his murder victims, turning it into a “sculpture garden”.


Umehara starts an ero-guro journal called PERVERSE MODERN DOCUMENTS (HENTAI SHIRYOU). To get around the censors, he makes it a special-order, subscriber-only affair. A zine, if you will.  In a harbinger of things to come, one feature of issue #1 was a reprint of some German anti-war photos (dead bodies, missing limbs, the suffering of war!) . . .but with the German captions taken out and new Japanese captions mocking the victims and making fun of everything. Decadent nihilism! Aren’t we terrible?!? This shift from grotesque to outright war porn, marks a gradual political shift from “shocking revolutionaries” to “right-wing war cheerleaders.”

Also, Umehara and Sakai collaborate on  the grand-daddy of all ero-guro magazines: GUROTESUKU (GROTESQUE). Fetishism! Sex crimes! This magazine leads the new trend: away from erotic (played out, plus highly censored), into grotesque (new, more extreme, and a much more broad category). People begin using “ero-guro” as a single phrase. Also GUROTESUKU highlighted “the way that eroticism was present in otherwise nonsexual acts, such as war and crime.” This was a good 2 years before J.G. Ballard was even fucking born.

Umehara publishes another book (do they have a fucking typewriter installed in the VIP room of the whore-house, next to the opium pipe? WTF), this time a translation of a German novel called BALKAN KRIEG (in Japanese: BARUKAN KURIIGU) . BALKAN KRIEG is straight-up war pornography. For dudes who get a boner thinking of killing. The trend is clear: as Japan marches ever closer to world conquest, ero turns into ero-guro, and then into straight-up guro, and finally to war and death.

A telegram from Japanese government puts the number of “ronin” (Japanese criminals : pimps, dealers, extortionists, swindlers, and mercenaries) in Manchuria at 10,000.


Nakayama Yuigorou publishes USER’S GUIDE TO MODERN HENTAI (HENTAI SHOSEIGEI). This is a 1,300 page encyclopedia of scams that city-folk use to rip off country people and noobs. Every possible hustle is contained.  Human traffickers, loan sharks, extortionists, scam artists, fake advertising . . .Also urban legends, and the usual perversions.

Also: huge depression and economic meltdown in Japan. Millions unemployed. Elite people start asking themselves, “How can we continue to buy coal, oil, and steel that we need to grow our economy, and get our unemployment numbers back down?” Answer : conquer people. In this scenario, militarism is just the means . . the end is a strong economy. So if you believe this particular theory of Japan’s imperialism, you’d have to conclude that Japan WON THE WAR.

1930 – 

The “Oriental Development Company” (run by Katsura Taro’s Oriental Society) now owns over half of ALL land in Korea.


Noma Jirou published RESEARCHING PERVERSE ERO (HENTAITEKI ERO NO KENKYUU), a sort of encyclopedia of ero-guro cultural trends, both real and “urban legends”, of the time. Such as human slaves being forced to be window mannequins to pay off debts (urban legend!). This is one of “the main texts of the genre.”: rape, beastiality, necrophilia, promiscuity, “Noma insists that the final outcome will be ‘a major contribution to human culture.’”

Edogawa Ranpo AND Jou Masayuki both bust out with novels called VAMPIRE, starting the “vampire eroticism” boom. Driscoll notes that Japanese vampires, (unlike Euro ones) are the same ethnic group as their victims. Everyone’s an “insider,” no one’s an “other.” Perhaps because of this, Japanese vampire stories tend to feature “victims” that cooperate with the vampires in their own demise. And how the victims, once bitten, tend to help the vampire.

For instance, in the Ranpo novel, some of the victims are nobodies who attain tabloid newspaper fame after death. Could this, asks Driscoll, be Ranpo’s critique of mass media and how capitalism gives people an incentive to die?

Buzz-killing leftist critics waste no time in drawing parallels to you-know-what-ism.

Ranpo also publishes THE CULMINATION OF EROTIC GROTESQUE (RYOUKI NO HATE), which “both critiques consumers’ demand for more sensational images and contributes to it.” It’s about a young rich kid with nothing to do so he decides to become a “student of perversion”, but nothing is ever enough for him, so he winds up joining a snuff-sex satanic ritual club. Not only that, but in order to catch the murderers, the detective himself has to join the club. The detective barely manages to regain his good judgment at the end and arrests the club members, but not until after he’s participated in a few murder orgies himself.

This theme of “complicity” is, along with “jadedness and over-stimulation”, a big part of all the critiques of modernism and capitalist entertainments.

1931 –  

The Manchurian Incident. A rogue and clandestine group of Japanese army officers (led by Ishihara Kanji and  Itagaki Seishirou) stage a fake “terrorist incident” (tnt on Japan’s railroad tracks), blame it on “Chinese terrorists” and use it to force the Emperor to declare total control of all Manchuria (rather than just control of a small fraction of it, and trading / train-operating rights in the rest), as well as a general land war with Regular China.

Fun fact: in order to get money for the explosives, they asked the mob! They got 50,000,000 yen from Fujita Osamu, a heroin ealer.

author Edogawa Ranpo publishes his masterpiece BLIND BEAST (MOUJUU), about a blind Tokyo masseuse, who lures his female clients into his apartment, murders them, taxidermies their bodies into statues, and then has a “special room” that he chases his victims through: it’s pitch black and full of giant, cabinet-sized sculptures of disembodied female body parts that he makes his victims run through, so they can feel what he, as a blind pervert, feels, before they die.

Sociologist Akagami Yoshitsuge publishes THE FACE OF EROTIC GROTESQUE SOCIETY (RYOUKI NO SHAKAISOU). He is a left-winger, who argues that this new form of industrial, urban capitalism is turning all our natural wants and needs into disposable artificial commodities. Our real desires, in contrast (for, say, love, trust, community, spirituality, meaning in life) can NOT be reduced to stuff on a shelf, so the modern “new breed” of human is cut off from them altogether. He says the unnaturalness of it all, plus the tendency to view other people as mere commodities, makes modern urban people more perverted, and thus erotic-grotesque. Capitalism is not content with owning us during our time at work – now it wants to control our leisure time, control our tastes in music, art, and fun, control our nervous systems, even! Freak shows, titty-bar peep shows, escapist Hollywood fantasies, and perms for all! The new urban dweller is jaded, over-stimulated, always searching for a more extreme thrill. Thus the slide from erotic into grotesque.

Most commies are buzz-kills who enjoy carping on anyone having fun anywhere, but Akagami manages to out-do even his fellow reds. Way to go.


Gonda Yasunosuke, the premier sociologist of Asakusa (Tokyo’s #1 most “modern” hood), publishes A THEORY OF PEOPLE’S PLEASURE (MINSHUU GORAKURON), arguing that, far from being a place where working folks can have a bit of fun and experience the latest in new forms of entertainment, Asakusa is a trap of evil capitalists to ensnare Joe Sixpack, offering a factory of fun where mass-produced shiny shit and fast food rolls off a conveyor-belt and into your lap. WWhat are we to make of human life, buried as it is underneath all these commodities?” Real thinking, feeling humans have been replaced by soul-less materialistic consumers. You are what you own! Settle down, Ian Mackaye. Gonda was like the most famous guy to be straight up, “fuck moga and mobo (modern girls and modern boys).” For a different view of Asakusa and of moga, please check my review of EROTIC GROTESQUE NONSENSE.

November – the magazines CRIMINAL SCIENCE and CRIME DIGEST feature – between grisly true-crime stories and tabloid sex headlines – accounts written by Japanese Imperial Army officers in the colonies, detailing how crazy things are out there. It’s odd because these are not political magazines. They’re pulp, trashy, true-crime, low-brow things with tits everywhere. So the articles by army officers are another example of what   Driscoll calls “war pornography.”

Sakai Kiyoshi (Umehara’s pal and co-editor of GROTESQUE) writes DEMON MAGIC (KOUREI MAJUTSU). What is that about?

Who is Amakasu Masahiko? He’s a famous secret-policeman, assassin, ex-con, and now leader of Manchukuo’s kenpentai (secret police). He hires 100 “military contractors” (i.e. crooks) and forms a mob called Uchifuji in Fentian city, a second syndicate in Harbin, and an “incipient drug and intelligence operation in Shanghai.” Through his Chinese underworld contacts, he obtains military secrets which help the Japanese army win battles. To give his gang total control of Harbin’s underworld, he has to get the Japanese army to invade Harbin (thereby driving out the Chinese cops, and rival gangs too). So, dressed as a Chinese terrorist, he drives around BY HIMSELF IN A FUCKING CAR FULL OF HAND GRENADES, going on a 3-day-long drive-by. While his friends call the Japanese army and beg for help.


 In March 1,  as a result of the Manchurian Incident, Japan formally takes over all of Manchuria. This sets in motion a whole chain of dominoes: instead of trying to battle China economically, trade wars, using businesses as soldiers, Japan is now actually fighting China with real soldiers. Chinese laborers in Manchuria are now routinely enslaved, and forced to work until death, in a totally unsustainable manner. Why? Because Japan has embarked on a course of world conquest, and needs Manchuria to make enough army equipment to do that. This is called “mobilization for total war.”

To accompany the army across the globe, they would need many prostitutes. They set up the first “comfort women” station in Shanghai. This is just another instance – one of many in the book – of the government copying what the Yakuza/underworld had been doing in the colonies all along, and turning it into official policy.

“Japan’s Guandong army desperately needed revenue to establish the new state, in addition to requiring useful intelligence from on-the-ground Japanese sources with experience in dealing with Manchuria. The only Japanese in control of these previous commodities of intelligence and drugs were the hustlers and traffickers, who were now joined by yakuza groups.”

The gangsters got cushy, legit jobs as “military advisers”, or pencil-pushers in the official government Opium Monopoly Corporation (!!!) Everyone called them “sensei.” Bureaucrats helped them set up “legitimate” businesses, and launder their drug money. Also – as “government advisers,” these hustlers were immune to customs searches.

Military leaders such as Amakasu Masahiko and Itagaki Seishirou teamed up with yakuza syndicates operating in Manchukuo such as the Kokusuikai and Seigidan.

The number of “ronin” in Manchuria is now over 30,000 (including yakuza).

The Kenpeitai were in charge of coordinating the local yakuza, making Amakasu (leader of the kenpeitai) a big guy in the opium game.

The Kempeitai were like the craziest guys in the whole thing – the main link between official government and yakuza. A sort of “official” gang: they could kill anyone, steal anything. They were in charge of disarming Chinese police, confiscating property, and taking over Chinese banks. Here, the “inside information” that the yakuza possessed came in handy. The yaks – who knew because local Chinese gangsters told them- told the kenpeitai “This family looks poor but they’re rich, and their gold is hidden here.” Or “That family is ripe for extortion,” and the kenpeitai would move in and get the loot, afterwards sharing some with the gangsters. Also, the yaks showed the more independent kenpeitai how to make “extra money” setting up their own prostitution and drug rings.

Driscoll says that without the revenue from heroin, opium, and morphine, Japan could not have waged WWII: he estimates that between 50 and 55% of all Manchuria’s GDP came from drugs.

Applying the same rules laid down by Goto in Taiwan, financial minister Hoshino Naoki starts the Opium Monopoly. Legalizing dope, but only the government is legally allowed to sell it. This is done in the guise of “regulating drugs” and “reducing crime.”  In practice, this meant that gangsters – excuse me, “advisors” would rob Chiense dope dealers at gunpoint, then turn around and sell the dope themselves. Chinese dope dealing was illegal. Meanwhile, entire neighborhoods of Japanese-owned supermarkets turn into out-and-out opium houses almost overnight.

The Manchukuo government uses this dope money (and the promise of more profits to come) as collateral for billions in loans from Japanese banks. Yes, they straight up told the banks, “This is dope money.”

Here’s how the industry works: Japanese army robs Chinese opium farmers at gunpoint, giving them pennies on the dollar, if even that. Then Japanese factories process the dope, and sell half of it to lisenced, Japanese-run opium dens. But, oops! They “lose” the other 50%! This is where the profit comes in: the “lost” 50% is sold to Yakuza at an insane markup: between 10 and 30 times the “official” price, and the yaks sell it to illegal Chinese opium dens at an even huger markup. 

Financial minister Hoshino Naoki then gets together with the kenpeitai and designates the one hundred biggest Japanese dope-dealers as “government liscenced wholesalers.”

254??? So complicated.

Bureaucrats like Furumi Tadayuki and Hoshino set up the Manchukuo Central Bank (opened with assets looted from the four main Chines banks in Manchuria), and was totally self-contained. No other banks (not even Japanese banks) could check its books. They also set up a Bureau for Special Financial Assets (dope money). This bureau was a “tunneling facility that shuttled money earned on the black market into the Central Bank.” And they use this laundered cash to form a “second budget” for the army. Not unlike the LDP’s “zaito.” They kept some for themselves, their bars, hookers, hot cars, etc. But most was needed to simply keep the government running, since all the drugs and corruption was (not surprisingly) slowing down the economy. Money was also set aside for more wars: China, Russia, America, whoever.

The bidan (glorious soldier) genre of samurai fiction, long out of fashion, is re-vamped and unleashed on the public as part of a wartime propaganda campaign. Suddenly there are “based on a true story” novels everywhere, detailing the “heroic deaths of our soldiers in Manchuria”. No one cares if the deaths mattered or if the soldiers had any tactical common sense, all that matters is they died well. For example, TRUE STORIES OF HUMAN BULLETS FROM JAPAN’S MANCHURIAN ARMY (MANSHUUGUN NIKUDAN JIKKI) was published in King magazine.

Noted asshole Shinobu Junbei writes a propaganda book, WAGA MANMON NO TOKUSHU KENEKI (OUR SPECIAL RIGHTS AND PRVILEGES AS JAPANESE IN MANCHURIA), which encourages Japanese to cheer on the colonialization, and maybe invest in it, or come to Manchukuo themselves and try their hand. The gist: the Chinese are so barbaric and anarchistic they can’t run their own country, so why not us?

1933 –

American diplomat Nicholson reports that in Andong, there are 145 legal (i.e. Japanese run) opium dens. 700 more (Chinese-run, illegal) in surrounding towns. Just two years before: there were no more than 10!

Japan invades Rehe province of China (bordering on Manchukuo) : Rehe has some of the most abundant opium fields in all north China – as well as a opium factory owned by a local warlord.. Also, Japan builds new heroin factories in Harbin and Xinjing.


Umehara Hokumei, having spent seven years fighting the censors, then two years incognito, re-emerges on the Tokyo scene, having become a right-winger and war supporter. He gets a job as a historian at Yasukuni shrine.

1935 –

“ash heaps” become commonplace in Manchurian cities: giant mass graves just outside of town, where dead junkies’ bodies are dumped by the thousands. “many Chinese addicts were required to have a rope tied to their wrists before gaining entry to the more than two hundred Japanese shooting galleries near South Gate; if they weren’t able to physically walk out, they would be dragged out by the rope and depositied on the ash heap to die.”

The Umezu-He and Doihara-Qin Accords in June 1935 facilitated a rapid expansion of the Japanese drug trade north and south of the Great Wall, and at this point Mitsui and Mitsubishi publicly diversified their product lines into opium, which they purchased from Iranian and Turkish sellers.

1936 –

dope is so common, the price of a hit is now a THIRD of what it was before the Manchurian Incident.

Nicholson, the American observer, estimates that the rate of addiction had risen to 18 percent of everyone in the whole city of Chunghe to 35 percent of everyone in Fengcheng.

Kishi Nobusuke gets the top bureaucrat job in Manchukuo. Who is Kishi Nobusuke ? Besides a money launderer and “future founder (!!!) of the LDP? Since Manchukuo doesn’t have a president or legislature, that means Kishi runs the show. He got the gig because he went go Germany, where he learned a combination of racism and “industrial rationalization” which appealed to Japanese Army guys. He immediately sets about drafting a five year plan. He’s good friends with Amakasu,  every hooker in Manchuria, an accomplished money launderer , and a big Kita Ikki fan.

1937 –

Along with Ishihara Kanji (the “total war” guy) and MIyaaki Masayoshi (“Who?”), Kishi drafts the FIVE YEAR PLAN for developing Manchukuo, and turning it into one giant factory for producing arms for the upcoming world war. Here’s where Kishi is different from a capitalist or gangster: he’s not about making maximum profit. He wants businesses to be controlled by the government and profits to have low limits. All the extra “profits” should be plowed right back into more development : more factories, more tanks, more bombs, more drugs. All for the war and the country! Capitalists were too greedy and self-centered. Regular people were too dumb and naive to be trusted with democracy. The only good, fair rulers were bureaucrats – since they sit in the center and can see how all the pieces fit together. Central planning for all!

Here is where Driscoll drops the bomb:  The economic preparation for a system of total war (economic central planning, profit ceilings, etc) . was put in place FIRST by the civilian elite in Manchukuo BEORE this colonial template was subsequently used in Tokyo.

But all this industrial rationalization depended on Japanese companies actually coming there in the first place. And, with strict profit limits, how was Kishi to induce the corporations to come? Answer: reduce the price of coolie labor from “cents a day” to “free.” With free labor, the corporations could make an easy profit.

As a result, pretty much all criminals were sent to do forced labor. Regular Manchurian men were obliged to do forced labor for six months every three years for free. And their women and children were forced to work the family farms by themselves.

Also : full-scale war with regular China. Chinese POWs forced into labor camps along with criminals and immigrants.

But also a lot of Chinese immigrants tricked into coming to the “paradise” of Manchukuo and its “abundant, well-paying jobs”. Japanese recruiting companies are all over the place in North China. Among other recruiting tools, they use movies: info-mercials produced by guess who? Amakasu Masahiko . He’s been promoted to Minister of Public Relations.

Around a million a year. A total of some 4,000,000 by the end of the war. A little less than half are supposed to have survived.

According to the confessions of Chinese collaborators later arrested by the Communist Chinese, “Forced laborers weren’t allowed to keep anything they had brought with them, including the clothes on their backs. All personal possessions were stolen from them and sold. With nothing left but explsed flesh, the y resorted to cutting holes in the bottom of paper and hemp bags used for mortar and this would be their only protection in the harsh winters. They often worked completely naked in summer, without shoes. Workers were fed sorghum and grass for food, and thirteen- and fourteen-hour workdays were standard.

17 December 1937 p. 281 Ayukawa Yoshisuke NISSAN becomes MANGYOU



a new decree says that anyone found loitering can be classified as a “delinquent” and hauled off to a labor camp.

Mangyou Industries takes over Manchurian Iron and Steel industry. The number of forced laborers in the Iron factories goes from 144 to 690 in one year. Only half survived that year.

Even “non-forced” labor (i.e. “jobs”) were not what you’d imagine: at the same iron factory, from 1938-1944, at the Fushun site, 25,000 of the 40,000 “nonforced” Chiense workers needed to be replaced annually, mainly as a result of death on the job and execution for insubordination, in addition to a smaller percentage managing to escape alive.


labor camps and “coolie work ethic” which had been perfected in Manchuria was now brought back to an increasingly desperate Japan, with some native Japanese now doing forced labor “for the war effort.”

Back in Manchuria, forced laborers (of which there were some 7 million at this point) had a yearly mortality rate of 50 percent.


the Manchurian men now required to serve 12 months of forced labor every three years.


Manchukuo institutes an “anti-drug” campaign: anyone found to be a junkie is required to report to the nearest “treatment station” – these are nothing more than bus-stops leading the junkies to slave-labor camps, where they are worked and starved to death. Also given drugs. Amphetamines.

Chinese laborers who were making military bases were routinely massacred after their work was done, to “keep military secrets.” “The Japanese military or military police would reoutinely have a celebration ceremony for the finished structure, and hand out food and alcohol. After the Chiense got drunk, the soldiers would murder them.” One such incident : 6,000 Chinese workers , forced to build fortifications in Xinganling, went ‘missing.’

“I estimate that in addition to the millions drugged and starved to death in the colony, no fewer than 2.5 million Chinese forced laborers were eorked to death in Manchukuo.”

Including heroin, opium, and morphine, roughly 20 percent of the colonized Chinese population is now addicted.

2 comments Tags: , ,

I’m just saying

Back in August 19th, the Israeli army killed 3 Egyptian police. Apparently the Egyptian cops were killed in the crossfire of some kind of gun-battle between an Israeli helicopter and  Gaza militants on the run. Egyptians are mad because Israel killed their border cops and then – according to the story – "apologized" but did not take any substantial action. This according to the Jewish Daily Forward's website.


It's September 9th, and I just googled "2011 israel kills egyptian police"  In the first 5 Google results pages, there was ONLY ONE news report from a mainstream American news agency  (ABC) about how the Israeli army killed 3 Egyptian police on August 19th. 


Wait, I take that back –  it wasn't even "real" ABC. . . a local ABC affiliate in Philadelphia was the ONLY American news agency to report this.  So – as far as Google is concerned – not even ONE major national USA news agency bothered to report the story.


Now, I just googled "2011 egypt israel embassy", and in the first 5 Google results pages I found like basically EVERY American news agency – CNN,NYT, MSNBC, FOX, ABC, HUFFPO, etc. covering the subsequent invasion of Israel's Egyptian embassy by outraged Egyptians.   I then pulled a Noam Chomsky and read the FOX, CNN, MSNBC and NYT reports, but there was no mention in ANY of them about the – oh you know- the REASON Egyptians were upset.


The whole "Sorry we blew up your policemen by accident,  right when relations between our two countries are at a total crossroads, but shit happens Egypt, get over it." thing. 


Both "left-wing" MSNBC and "right wing" FOX basically cut and pasted the same exact article onto their websites, and both ignored  what was probably the main reason for the attack on the Israeli embassy. Because, you know, Muslims just like to go crazy and attack shit for no reason.


Also interesting: on the very first page of Google results for the August 19th incident was an article by the Jewish Daily Forward (which they copied from the Israeli Haaretz news service) – so ironically, the Israeli media itself was more fair to the Egyptians than the American media.


I'm just saying.

1 comment

on the subject of videos

Here's the long-in-the-making Conquest For Death video, filmed in Japan, Indonesia, Africa, Singapore, and the USA!



still more gunka

満州国皇帝陛下奉迎歌 (the "Manchuria Welcomes His Highness The Emperor" song)



(thanks to Ted Natsume for help with the difficult parts!)

作詞 町田敬二
作曲 石塚寛


国を挙ぞり迎へ奉れ 燦たり聖駕に

くにをこぞり むかえまつれ さんたりせいが(天子の乗り物)に

桜花渡れし 麗らよ今日の日 ひつべしぜんり

おうかわたれし うららよ(晴れ晴れとした)きょうのひ
日満親和いよよ厚し 慶び溢るる日本のこの歌

にちまんしんわ いよよあつし 

供へ奉れ 高らかにいざ
そなえまつれ たからかにいざ
We made our national commitment to welcome his majesty.
In clear nice weather the cherry blossoms bless the shining vehicle of his majesty.
With the strong relationship between Japan and Manchuria deepened
we proudly dedicate our joyful song to his majesty.

襟を正し迎へ奉れ 凛たり英姿に

Straighten those clothes and present a respectful welcome to the dignified and noble figure!
Let the fragrance of orchid blossoms declare the dazzling beauty of this day!
The friendly nations clear and pure,
We celebrate the success of governing policy by the majesty.
In the solemn atmosphere, let the majesty hear the voice of Japan filled with joy.

旗を翳し迎へ奉れ 煌たり玉歩に歴史は光れり
朗らよ今日の日 ひつべし聖邦東洋平和 

Hold high the flag in welcome! Reverently present it to He whose radiance glistens throughout history!
Today is a wonderful day, for the peace of the Holy Country has been brought to Asia
We, as a citizen of Japan, offer ourselves humbly to Japan that is filled with eternal enjoyment and rapture.

遂げたり神風 (Carry Out the Kamikaze!)


This song is NOT about kamikaze, the suicide bombers. This is about a top-of-the-line new Japanese warplane which the PLANE was named Kamikaze. Back in 1937, when Japan was still optimistic about the future.

The chorus of this song refers to the famous pilots Iinuma and Tsukgoshi, who flew Japanese-made planes all the way to London to show Whitey that Japanese aviation engineering was capable of such a feat.


作詞 北原白秋
作曲 村山美知子

遂げたり鵬程東の神風 西へと勢へば遮ぎる空なし
輝く銀翼轟く爆音 今こそ享げや航空日本
享け享けこの声 飯塚越沼 涙ぞどよめく

Carry out the mission! The divine wind of the East blows a very long way. Blowing westwards with great force, no clouds to obstruct it.

The glittering silver-winged roar of the explosions, Now is the time to strike! Japan, with your mighty airforce.

Strike, strike! Make them hear the voice of  Iinuma and Tsukagoshi. Japan echos with tears of joy!

A hundred million people, standing as one.

駆けたり敢然我等が神風 肝あり細心向かへば敵なし
衝きゆく荒天貫く酷熱 閃け日の丸新鋭日本
享け享けこの声 飯沼塚越 涙ぞどよめく

Moving so fast! We fearless kamikaze. No one can match our guts and accuracy.

Carry forth the Rising Sun flag, let no storms or heat stay your course! Japan, with your new and powerful planes!

Strike, strike! Make them hear the voice of  Iinuma and Tsukagoshi. Japan echos with tears of joy!

A hundred million people, standing as one.

超たりたちまち国産神風 欧亜の一線征して雲なし
輝く秒刻記録の更新 見よ見よこの国躍進日本
享け享けこの声 飯沼塚越 涙ぞどよめく

The superior made-in Japan Kamikaze, striking all at once.  In one great battle formation, to erase the obstructing clouds of Europe and America.

We broke the world record for speed. Behold! Japan,with your rapid advance!

Strike, strike! Make them hear the voice of  Iinuma and Tsukagoshi. Japan echos with tears of joy!

A hundred million people, standing as one.



進め一億火の玉だ (Advance of the Hundred Million Shooting Stars)

instrumental. So THIS is where Lucas got the Imperial March from.


(Again with lyrics)


OK, so THIS song is about kamikaze, the suicide bombers.  Happy now, you morbid weirdos?

行くぞ行かうぞ ぐゎんとやるぞ

Let's go! Let's do this! Charge!

That's the real Japanese spirits

Let them see, let them feel your true power!

We've been so patient

But now we can't take any more


拍手打って ぬかづけば
今だ たのむと声がする
おいらの胸にゃ ぐっときた

Can you hear the clapping?

Your parents, children, siblings and wife stand in front of Yasukuni Shrine

applauding you, asking you to do it now.

Can you feel it in your heart?



That's right! One hundred million shooting stars

One man after another, strike our Suicide Corps.

Our fighting strength unites us strongly

No matter what, we will accomplish our mission


Go on, you hundred million jewels!

Go on, you hundred million, BOOM, go on!


You know what? Fuck this.

It's time to get the stink out of my eyes and mouth.

Let's balance the scales with some anti-emperor rock and roll – but not just any rock and roll.

3 rock songs that were banned by the government.

東京イズバーニング Tokyo is Burning by ANARCHY

(Japan's first punk band)



Tokyo is Burning!


Jesus Christ, I'm so fucking angry.

All he does is eat, it's a carefree life for him

Just because he comes from a good family, he can goof off

He was raised well but doesn't know a damn thing



Why is he the symbol of Japan?

He doesn't know anything, it's rediculous


He 's never known hardship, that dried plum Highness

Little brat,  raised up like a bean sprout, dick

In his fancy clothes, so frivolous

Just because he was born in that family.


Jesus Christ, I'm so fucking angry.

Little brat,  raised up like a bean sprout, dick

In his fancy clothes, so frivolous

Just because he was born in that family.


The bleeped words were censored by the record company, but even the bleeped version got banned by right-wing militia groups, presumably with the backing of police.

Just in case you're curious what the original words were:

First bleep was  象徴 (symbol)

Second bleep was  殿下 (Your Highness)

WTF man, WTF.

赤軍兵士の詩 (Poem for the Red Army Soldier)




Trampled and devastated, this is our hell

While the rising sun celebrates

We sneak out of our dark hole

To sneak a peek of what you assholes call Heaven

水も無けりゃ 血も出てこない
Our wounds washed with freezing sand

If we have no water, we can never bleed.

Someone, give us something for our hungry stomachs

We don't have time to spare for hunger


We ran away from the north wind,

??? we are the bright-red sons of summer

Appearing suddenly without any historical precedent

It can't be helped; we were hiding underground for long enough!


For us, there is no morning, no noon

There is only glittering eyes and silence

We don't speak of the future

It's better to chew your own tongue than open your mouth.


Passing through the streets crumbling with despair

Seeing the fire of the sunset on the horizon

Straddled by a shit-stained rainbow

Right before the eyes of our troops


We are thirsty, our dreams are turbulent

Drool comes from our mouths as we sleep

The stars call from a iron blue sky

???? asshole painter???


We'll burn your blood-soaked flag

When morning comes, we'll hide ourselves

Our flesh is obsessed, possessed by corruption

Even firing one bullet is a luxury for us


Singing to ourselves a tune whose theme we've forgotten

But we single-mindedly keep walking

Better than looking at that tangled map, is to

Keep dragging our tired feet along


Trampled and devastated, this is our hell

While the rising sun celebrates

We embrace animosity and anxiety

Just searching for the next hell.


Our eyes which no longer glitter

We embrace our burst-open hearts

In the rain, which seems like a dark tunnel

We are still trying to get a peek of what you assholes call heaven.


「世界革命戦争宣言」 (Declaration of World Revolutionary War)

AKA 銃を取ろう (Get Your Guns!)

Also by Zuno Keisatsu.














我々にも ニクソン(当時の米大統領)、佐藤(首相)、キージンガー(たぶんキッシンジャー)、ドゴールを殺し






我々は最後の戦争の為に 世界革命戦争の勝利の為に

君達をこの世から抹殺する為に 最後まで戦い抜く!



君達をそそのかし うしろであやつる豚どもに向けて

我々を邪魔する奴は 容赦なく抹殺する!


Ladies and gentlemen of the Bourgouise!

In order to make a clean sweep of you all,
we're attacking you all over the world at once.
This is an official declaration of war.
We already know too much of your history
Your history is soaked in blood, isn't it?
In your time, you started war after war for plunder, and then deceive us about it
Killing and killing each other
Don't lie to me and deny it!
We won't be deceived or tempted by you any longer!
You think you have the right to kill Vietnamese just because you want to?
Well, then we have the right to kill you too, just because!
You kill the Black Panthers too.
You think you can simply roll your tanks into the ghetto to crush people?
Well, we'll kill Nixon, Sato, Kissinger, and De Gaulle too!
We have the right to blow the Pentagon, the Japanese Defense Agency, the Police Headquarters, and all your individual houses to bits!
You think you can kill the people of Okinawa with your bayonets?
We have the right to stab you to death with our knives!
It was your great mistake to think you could continue to do everything you wanted forever.
Your era is already over!
In order to end all wars, In order to win the World Revolutionary War,
In order to erase you people off the face of the earth,
we will carry on to the bitter end!
To the ladies and gentlemen of the Japanese army, the riot police, and the Western armies, we openly wave our guns in your face
If you don't want to be killed, you ought to get your guns too!

God damn, hippies don't play. If you want to know more about the whole Zuno Keisatsu scandal, there's an extensive interview here.

3 comments Tags: , ,

hardcore gunka

Last post was the regular gunka  (WWII fight music) that you can still get at any record store in Japan.


This time is the stuff that YOU CAN'T FIND nowadays, since it's a LITTLE un-PC.

However, thanks to youtube, there is an entire subculture of  maniacs who find the original 78s, digitize them, and post them for the whole internet to see.

Translations are mine, as are the mistakes.

Strap in, people, it's going to be a rough ride.

米英撃滅の歌 (the 'Destroy America And Britain' Song)

and then

アメリカ爆撃 (Bomb the hell out of America)

(youtube clip has 2 songs)



the 'Destroy America And Britain' Song


濤は哮る 撃滅の時は今だ
空母戦艦 断じて屠れ
海が彼奴らの 墓場だ 塚だ
海が彼奴らの 墓場だ 塚だ

Hear the roar of the waves! The time of destruction is now!

Absolutely destroy their aircraft carriers and battleships!

The ocean shall be their cemetery, their burial ground

The ocean shall be their cemetery, their burial ground

風は咆える 覆滅の時は今だ
魔翼 妖鳥 断じて堕とせ
雲が彼奴らの 経帷子だ
雲が彼奴らの 経帷子だ

Hear the wind roar! The time of ruination is now!

The wings of the demon and the impundulu (*) absolutely knock them out of the sky!

The clouds shall be their Kyokatabira (**)

The clouds shall be their Kyokatabira

草は燃える 殲滅の時は今だ
鬼畜米英 断じて斃せ
山が彼奴らの 墓標だ墓石だ
山が彼奴らの 墓標だ墓石だ

The Grass is burning, the time of annhilation is now!

The American and English beasts, absolutely crush them!

The mountains shall be their gravestones, their headstones!

The mountains shall be their gravestones, their headstones!

時は今だ 決勝の時は今だ
興亜聖戦 断じて遂げよ
み民われらの 命が的だ
み民われらの 命が的だ

The time is now! The final conflict is now!

The Holy War for the Development of Asia, absolutely carry it out!

We Japanese, we will give our lives for this!

We Japanese, we will give our lives for this!


* = the impundulu is a South african magical bird that witches can summon through nutty rituals.

** = Kyokatabira= white kimono that dead bodies are dressed in


Bomb the hell out of America!



Bomb the American mainland!

This is the day we've been waiting for.

As we pray we listen

The siren begins to wail

It's the American funeral song

There is no time for them to scream

We Japanese are the eagles of war!


America is the enemy of all Asians

Keep it up until they scream and wail

This is the day we've been waiting for

Training and improving our fighting skills

Comrades in arms laugh and tell each other, "Let's go already!"

Beat them all up!  Really give them hell!

We Japanese are the eagles of war!


(the Youtube poster adds: "Just so you know, America had a song called "Bomb the hell out of Tokyo" too!)

Anyone know that ditty?

比島決戦の歌 (The 'Decisive Battle of the Phillippines' song)


作詞 西条八十
作曲 古関裕而

いざ来いニミッツ マッカーサー
出てくりゃ地獄へ  逆落とし

Daybreak in Asia is glittering! The decisive battle is here

The young sakura have no fear for their lives.

Now, they are ready to bloom and battle in the Phillippines

Hey now, Where are you, Macarthur?

Come on and meet us, you'll take a trip to hell!

いざ来いニミッツ マッカーサー
出てくりゃ地獄へ  逆落とし

On the continent, General Yamashita is as fierce as a tiger

On the seas, Admiral  "Iron Blood" Oogawauchi rules!

Behold, our bases will bring certain death!

Hey now, Where are you, Macarthur?

Come on and meet us, you'll take a trip to hell!

正義の雷 世界を撼わせ
我等一億 共に往く
いざ来いニミッツ マッカーサー
出てくりゃ地獄へ  逆落とし

The thunder of our righteousness moves the world

Now is the time for the kamikaze to go forth!

A hundred million of us together proceeding as one

Hey now, Where are you, Macarthur?

Come on and meet us, you'll take a trip to hell!

いざ来いニミッツ マッカーサー
出てくりゃ地獄へ  逆落とし

Radiant with glory and divine authority, our bretheren number ten billion!

Through the ups and downs of battle

Aah, the spurt of blood in the Phillippines

Hey now, Where are you, Macarthur?

Come on and meet us, you'll take a trip to hell!

万歳ヒットラー・ユーゲント (Banzai Hitler Jugend!)



ハーケン クロイツ

Shining with glittering radiance

The swastika

Our sworn friends to the West, we bid you welcome from afar

Well now, look now! We greet you in the morning sun

We East Asian young men

Banzai (long life) to the Hitler Jugend!

Banzai to the Nazis!

ハーケン クロイツ
響けよその旗 この風 この夏、
防共ひとたび 君我誓はば、

Listen to our jubilation!

The swastika!

The echo of your flag, this wind, this hot summer

All you who have taken the vow of anti-communism

To establish a new century of fairness and justice

Banzai (long life) to the Hitler Jugend!

Banzai to the Nazis!

ハーケン クロイツ


Shining with glittering radiance

The swastika

A country laboring with unwavering spirits

Well now, let's do this completeley! The Yamato mountains and rivers

Together with the honorable German volk!!!

Banzai (long life) to the Hitler Jugend!

Banzai to the Nazis!


感謝す 朗らに、
ハーケン クロイツ

With gratitude and good cheer

the swastika

An exchange of courtesies and traditions

We samurai wish you good luck on your journies


Banzai (long life) to the Hitler Jugend!

Banzai to the Nazis!






英国東洋艦隊潰滅 (Annhilate Great Britain's Oriental Fleet)



作詞 高橋掬太郎
作曲 古関裕而

沈むレパルス 沈むプリンス・オブ・ウェールズ

Ruination, ruination to the opponent's Asian fleet!

The Murray Peninsula, the Kuantan Sea

Now is the time! They are sinking to the bottom

Our wild eagles roam valorously over the ocean

Sink the Rapels (?), sink the Prince of Wales

荒ぶ波に 沈め去りぬ

Fighting and fighting, our warriors

You bear the weight of imperial destiny!

The arrogant British fleet

Sink them beneath the raging waves

沈むレパルス 沈むプリンス・オブ・ウェールズ

This everlasting day shall never be forgotten

Go forth and massacare the enemy ships in one swift attack!

Achieve our aims within three days of war

Sink the Rapels (?), sink the Prince of Wales



勲仰げ 仰げ勲

興亜行進曲 (The Develop Asia March)




興亜の使命 双肩に
担ひてたてり 民五億

Now is the dawning of a new century

the rising sun brings prosperity!

glittering over the four seas

the mission of developing Asia rests on our shoulders

We will carry these five hundred million people




Hear it! Heaven and Earth echo

with our "Develop East Asia" battle cry!

Our blood burns with the fire of our ideals

Now is the time to go to the natives of Asia

Send the navy forth with great ambitions!


The melody of joy echoes

Celebrate the glorious departure (of the troops)

Holding up the flag of unity

Our cherry, orchid, and peony blossoms

You can bloom even in the strongest storm

かはらぬ盟ひ かんばしく

Well now, united we will build it

An everlasting and glorious Greater East Asia.

We have taken our ete vow, the omens are good!

Developing Asia to ripen its bountiful harvest

And show to the world our greatness.



ハワイ大海戦 (The Great Hawaiian Naval Battle)


作詩 北原白秋  
作曲 海軍軍楽隊

天に二つの日は照らず しのぐは何ぞ星條旗
大詔降る時まさに この一戰と衝き進む
疾風萬里太平洋   目指すはハワイ眞珠灣

Two suns shine in the sky, surpassing the so-called "star-spangled banner."

Now is the time for the Imperial Decree to descend upon them, attacking with one decisive strike

A mighty  hurricane that blows thousands of miles across the Pacific

たれか思はん暁の 夢おどろかす爆撃を
つんざく雲の切れ間より 見よ轟々と攻め襲う
必殺の雷 海の鷲 しんしん迫る潜航艇

At daybreak, a bombing raid awakens the unsuspecting from their dreams

Bursting forth from between the clouds, behold the thunder of our attack!

The thunder of certain death! The eagles of the sea, the approach of our mini-submarines!

神か人かも身を棄てて 千古に徹るその命
何をか哭かん盡忠の ああ荒み魂火の柱
地軸も裂けよ艦ともに たちまち碎く敵主力

Gods or men have their bodies pierced, shattering into a thousand pieces

Our souls aflame with unwavering devotion, fighting until we die without crying

The instant destruction of the enemy's main fleet tears the earth from its axis!

天も碎ける轟爆音 今こそ知れや米艦隊 
正義の決意すでにして 凱歌は揚がるこの八日
一望萬里太平洋   われあり望む大東亞

The roar of the explosions rips Heaven apart, now the Americans must realize it!

The eighth day! Let them hear our victory song, of justice and determination

For ten thousand miles of the Pacific, a view uncluttered by Americans, this is our wish for a Greater East Asia.


打倒米英 (Overthrow America and Great Britain)






作詞 西条八十
作曲 古賀政雄

待ちに待ったる時は来た 腕が鳴る鳴る血が躍る
さあ来いアメリカ さあ来い英国
ハワイの堅塁なにものぞ なにものぞ

The time we have waited for is finally here –  time to  put our skills to use, to hear the ringing of blood in our ears

Come on then, America, come on, England!

See the glittering of the flag of righteousness!

Didn't you see what we did to your stronghold in Hawaii? What's it worth now?

降るよ火の雨鐵の雨 とうに覚悟は出来ている
さあ来い空襲 さあ来い敵艦
烏合の敵勢 なにものぞ なにものぞ

Feel our flames rain down, our iron rain down on you!  We have been preparing for this day!

Bring on your air-raids, bring on your enemy ships!

We are ready to give our hundred million lives

The fighting power of your rabble, what is it? What is it worth now?

神の亜細亜を白人の 手から亜細亜に取戻す
尊い使命だ光栄ある戦だ 八紘一宇 理想の前に
汚れし米英 なにものぞ なにものぞ

The Gods of Asia proclaim: take Asia back from the white man!

It's an honor for us to fight in such a precious mission. In the name of  uniting all Asia!

You filthy Americans and Brits! What are you worth now?


大東亜決戦の歌 (the 'Decisive Battle For Greater East Asia' song)







作詞 伊藤豊太
作曲 海軍軍楽隊

起つや忽ち撃滅の 勝どき挙る太平洋 
東亜侵略百年の 野望をここに覆えす 

Rising up all at once, we bring destruction and victory over the Pacific!

You can't disguise your hundred years of aggression in East Asia. (???)

Now is the time for a decisive battle!

征くや激しき皇軍の 砲火は叫ぶ大東亜 
一発必中肉弾と 散って悔いなき大和魂 

Hear the gunfire of the Imperial Army, passionately conquering Greater East Asia

Our human bullets will succeed on their first attempt,  winning without fear, in the true Japanese Spirit

Now is the time for ultimate loyalty!

見よや燦たる皇国の 歴史をまもる大決意
前線銃後一丸に 燃えて轟くこの歩調

Behold! The brilliant Japanese Empire, as foretold by history!

The home front and the front-lines, together we march as one, roaring

Now is the time for our civilization to prosper!

いざや果たさん十億の 亜細亜を興す大使命
断乎膺懲堂々と 正義貫く鉄石心

Well now! It is our great mission to raise up these one billion Asians

Our majesty and righteousness, our iron will shall punish the enemy

The time for the decisive battle has come!




大東亜聖戦の歌 (the 'Holy War For Greater East Asia' song)



作詞 中村 粲
作曲 高澤 智昌

作詞された中村 粲氏曰く「二十世紀最後の軍歌」だそうです。

This song was released in 1999 (?!?!?)

According to the lyric-writer, Mr. Nakamura, it's "Late-20th century gunka."

1. 黒竜江の流血に 二十世紀の東洋は
妖雲の下明けゆけど 支那は眠れり朝鮮も

2. 四百余州と大八洲 共に睦みて栄えんと
声励ませど耳貸さず 泰西人に阿りて

3. 満漢侵す露を討てと 皇師は進む鶏林を
はた黄海の波分けて 旅順奉天対馬沖

4. 萎えゆく東亜救はんと 差し伸ぶ手をば逆恨み
洋夷赤露の威を恃み 我を蔑する支那なれば

5. 広袤千里満洲は 扶餘高句麗の昔より
兵争絶ゆる暇なきが 大同協和の国建ちて

6. 銃声響く盧溝橋 隠忍の我侮りて
抗日叫ぶ蒋と毛 わが喉元に刃擬す

7. 遂に来れり決戦の 火蓋切つたる真珠湾
シンガポールもフィリピンも ジャワも一撃なびき伏す

8. わが皇軍の進撃に 凱歌は上る大東亜
白き鉄鎖を断ち切りて 十億の民起つところ

9. 満蒙支那に南溟に はた朔北に山ゆかば
草むすかばね海ゆかば 水づくかばねと若きらが

10. 四歳に亘る勇戦も 衆寡敵せず皇軍は
矢弾盡き果て花と散る されど揺がず大亜細亜

11. 武運拙く敗れしが 見ずや亜細亜のこの歩武を
一髪土に残らずも 嗚呼大東亜聖戦の


The singer goofed, saying "our pride" instead of "our hearts," as written.

※ 歌ってらっしゃるのは三鷹淳さんだと思われます。


今 年の「昭和の日」にたまたまテレビで「異国の丘」を聞いて、≪昭和の日―「異国の丘」が懐かしい≫(4/29)を書き、それがきっかけで幼少年期に耳に した軍歌や満州国時代の歌をYou Tubeで集め、≪「昭和の日」に軍歌を歌う≫(5/01)、≪満州想えば 曇りがち≫(5/03)を書いて、あれからときどき集めた歌を聴いてなつかし んでいるのです。

ところで、戦前の軍歌だと思って集めていた曲の中に、平成11年(1999年)に中村 粲という方が作詞し、高澤 智昌という方が作曲した「大東亜聖戦の歌」という戦後に作られた軍歌が入っていました。Wikipediaによると「自称、二十世紀最後の軍歌」だそうです。

その歌を何度も聞いてると、右翼の方々のおっしゃるお考えがとてもよくまとめられ、凝縮されているなあ、と思いました。そこで中村 粲という方を調べてみましたところ、この方の代表作は『大東亜戦争への道』だそうで、「(この書)は、600ページを超える大著で、平成8年( 1990年)の刊行から十五年以上経た現在もなお版を重ねており(2006年10月、14刷となる)、大東亜戦争肯定論支持者の間では特に重要な書籍と位 置づけられている」とのことです。私はまったく存じていませんでしたが、とても有名な方なのですね。本職は大学の英語の先生で、和英辞典の編集・執筆とか 日本史資料の英訳など、英文学者としての業績も多数あるそうです。

3 comments Tags: ,

gunka, gunka, gunka!

Gunka is a style of propaganda music from the "Let's conquer the world!" days: '35 ~'45 (ish). It comes from the characters 軍 (army) and 歌 (song).

The songs were not FOR soldiers, they were for the folks back home, to whip up enthusiasm for war.

That's why a lot of gunka sounds like childrens' music.

You can still buy lots of gunka at mainstream places like Tower Records.


Sit back and enjoy some memories of how tough  Japan was before Anime and AKB48.




大八洲 (Ooyashima = an archaic word for Japan)



The country that  the Gods gave birth to

Ooyashima, with its pure mountains and rivers

Far and wide to the ocean's limit

Our authority and might extends throughout Greater East Asia


The country established by the Gods

With its rich bountiful fields of reeds

Swelling with abundance and life

Respected and venerated by all Greater East Asia



The country that protects God,

The mighty port of Urayasu

With its constant traffic of huge vessels

Forever protecting the peace of Greater East Asia


(Greater East Asia was the PC term for "parts of Asia that we control, or will control soon." )


出征兵士を送る歌 (a Song for the Departing Soldiers)



You who honorably do it  for our Emperor

On a morning full of life and glory

We extol you! Let forth a hundred million jubilations to strike the sky!

Well now, we send you forth, you sons of Japan!


Deep emotions bloom in your bodies like gorgeous flowers

Your battle clothing fastened securely to your chests

To the place where the Campaign for Righteousness is waged

Let no one stop you, it's just a short distance away

Well now, we send you forth, you sons of Japan!


Following after our radiant and honorable flag

Crossing many rivers and mountains until achieving victory

The unrivaled military might and heroic deeds of Japan

Will be shown to the world, the time is now!

Well now, we send you forth, you sons of Japan!

四、 守る銃後に憂いなし

Protecting the homefront, without gloom

Displaying Japanese spirit, without trembling

Defending the country in the name of peace and harmony

Guarding us with rock-solid fortifications

Well now, we send you forth, you sons of Japan!

五、 ああ万世の大君に

AAAAAHHH!!! The Emperor for all eternity

The grass is wet all over with  unswerving loyalty ????

You who have taken the sacred vow, now is the time to depart

Displaying courage as you leave your homes

Well now, we send you forth, you sons of Japan!

六、 父祖の血汐に色映ゆる

You have the blood of your ancestors coursing through you brightly

The glory of our "rising sun" flag,

Raise its brilliance over all the sky of Asia for a hundred years!

Well now, we send you forth, you sons of Japan!

加藤隼戦闘隊 -Kato Hayabusa Fighter Wing-

同期の桜 (Brothers of the Sakura)




作詞:西條 八十


You and I, we are Brothers of the Sakura

Blooming in the garden of the  same Naval Academy

We are resigned to have our petals fall after we bloom

For the sake of our country, we will make it a splendid fall, scattering petals beautifully


You and I, we are Brothers of the Sakura

Blooming in the garden of the  same Naval Academy

Our bond is stronger than flesh and blood

A mysterious bond which can never be broken


You and I, we are Brothers of the Sakura

Blooming in the garden of the  same Flying Corps squad

The majestic setting sun of the southern sky

Now is the time to go forth and never return


You and I, we are Brothers of the Sakura

Blooming in the garden of the  same Flying Corps squad

We can't wait for the day to fulfill our vows

Because when we scatter our petals is the day we die


You and I, we are Brothers of the Sakura

Although we may drop our petals far apart,

We will be reunited at the Capital of Fallen Flowers, Yasukuni Shrine

We will meet again in spring, at the tip of the same branch


麦 と 兵 隊 (Wheat and Soldiers)


作詩 藤田まさと  作曲 大村能章
1 徐州徐州と 人馬は進む
  徐州居よいか 住みよいか
  洒落た文句に 振り返りゃ
  お国訛りの おけさ節
  ひげがほほえむ 麦畠

To Xuzhou, to Xuzhou, the men and horses advance

"Xuzhou, is this an easy place to stay? Is this place a good place to live?"

We grumble as we look back over our shoulders

We hear their dialect, see their native dances

Their abundant fields of wheat blowing to and fro.

2 友を背にして 道なき道を
  行けば戦野は 夜の雨
  兵の歩みの 頼もしさ

Along the trackless path, being carried upon my comrade's back

When we reach the battlefield,   it's night and raining.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," we say to his backside.

"Don't talk foolishly!" he replies, and keeps on carrying me.

The soldier's march is reliable

3 腕をたたいて 遥かな空を
  仰ぐ眸に 雲が飛ぶ
  遠く祖国を はなれ釆て
  しみじみ知った 祖国愛
  友よ釆て見よ あの雲を

Fighting with skill under a distant sky

Clouds honorably float through

We've come so far from our fatherland

And so realized the true meaning of patriotism

My comrade, come and gaze upon these clouds

4 行けど進めど 麦また麦の
  波の探さよ 夜の寒さ
  声を殺して 黙々と
  影を落して 粛々と
  兵は徐州へ 前線へ

Advancing through wheat and more wheat

Feeling the waves of wheat in the dark and cold of night

Advancing silently, killing the voice

Advancing silently, not showing our sillhouettes

Soldiers on the front line of  Xuzhou

(this song is about the battle of Xuzhou, wikipedia here.)

月月火水木金金 (No Saturday or Sunday, just Two Mondays and Two Fridays)



作詞 高橋俊策
作曲 江口夜詩


At the first crack of dawn, breathing in the tides,

Absorbing the bronze color in our chests

We boast of the vigor of our youth

The men of the Navy Armada are always on duty

No Saturday or Sunday, just two Mondays and two Fridays!


Sweating in the reddening sun

Smiling as we prepare the cannons, wiping sweat from our brows

The Pacific has waves, waves, waves

The men of the Navy Armada are always on duty

No Saturday or Sunday, just two Mondays and two Fridays!


Our training gives us courage like a flame

The flag calls to us, the trumpet echos

Our warship of the Rising Sun, let's go!

The men of the Navy Armada are always on duty

No Saturday or Sunday, just two Mondays and two Fridays!


The raging waves strike us with their song

As we lie in our swaying hammocks we dream

of testing our ability in tomorrow's battle

The men of the Navy Armada are always on duty

No Saturday or Sunday, just two Mondays and two Fridays!


元寇 (Mongol Invasion!!!)

(Wikipedia: The Mongol invasions of Japan (元寇 Genkō?) of 1274 and 1281 were major military efforts undertaken by Kublai Khan to conquer the Japanese islands after the submission of Goryeo (Korea) to vassaldom. Despite their ultimate failure, the invasion attempts are of macrohistorical importance, because they set a limit on Mongol expansion, and rank as nation-defining events in Japanese history. The Japanese were successful, in part because the Mongols lost up to 75% of their troops and supplies both times on the ocean as a result of major storms. The invasions are referred to in many works of fiction, and are the earliest events for which the word kamikaze, or "divine wind", is widely used. With the exception of the occupation of Japan at the end of World War II, these failed invasion attempts are the closest Japan has come to being conquered by foreign power in the last 1500 years.)


All of China rose up

Over a hundred thousand enemies

Cause crisis for our nation

In the fourth year of the Kouan era

WIthout showing any fear

The young men of Kamakura

In the name of righteousness and militarism

Showed the world what Japan can do!

そは何 蒙古勢

There's many barbarians on the beaches

It's the mighty Mongolians!

Arrogant and insolent

They want to conquer heaven and earth!

Our  loyal boys set forth from their homes

Strong from diligent training

For this country of ours

The swords of Japan will be put to the test!


Through the seas of Kyuushuu,

forcing apart the waves they go

Led by Takeo

They went to attack our enemies, caring not if they would make it back home

Fighting and dying like demons, for the sake of their country.

Warriors of (the city of) Hakozaki, they took the vow

To serve the Gods which reign over us.

They had the spirit of  true Yamato! (Yamato = the Japanese majority ethnic group)

玄界灘 月清し

Heaven was filled with wrath at the invaders!

The seas raged, the huge waves came

The enemies of our country were no more!

Over 100,000  of the Mongolian soldiers

Sank to the bottom of the seas like so much seaweed

Only three Mongolians survived

Unnoticed, the clouds parted,

It was the will of the Gods. ???


3 comments Tags: , ,

Japan book review 11: THE STATE BEARING GIFTS by Brian McVeigh

 buy it here.

This is amazing book about how Japanese daigaku (colleges) are "simulated learning" – teachers pretending to teach, to students who pretend to learn. That sounds like a pretty severe thing to say about a whole country's higher education system, but McVeigh lays down some serious evidence for it.




 First, all the sentences like this:

“Highlighting theoretical linkages between exchange theory and social dramatics has implications for comparative studies of political systems besides Japan’s, particularly in regards to modernity, social stability,and the ideological manufacture of legitimacy.”


Compare that to this Scientology training manual;


Once you've had the location cog, it is generally enough to just touch one and he realizes that he's not located, nor was he ever located in the first place and he frees up.   One thing that messes this up is to run NOTS processes "locating" BTs.   You can still spot where one happens to think he is, but if you push it, or search for one somewhere, you frequently find yourself forcing a BT to occupy that location.

Honestly someday somebody should systematically compare “out-there” academic jargon to rantings of Scientologists or schizophrenics just for fun. What rules of syntax make the two styles so eerily similar, and what social forces prevent us from stating that obvious fact out loud?


STATE BEARING GIFTS is interesting because out of all the “Japan” books I’ve read so far, this one is the only one that’s BOTH "liberate the people from capitalism! Speak truth to power and all that PC stuff!" but also totally:  “Japanese are all lying liars! Yeah, yeah, it’s their culture and yadda yadda, but so what: lies are lies. Call a spade a spade. I’m totally not interested in whatever ‘tradition’ you people use to justify this.”

The book’s main weakness is he didn’t interview anyone. He spends the first half of the book discussing abstract buzzwords like “performative circuitry” and “exchange dynamism in the ethno-educato-policracy”, and the second half of the book listing a huge number of too-short, out-of-context anecdotes that he pulled out of newspapers and other academics’ papers.


His method seems to be to skip all the nuances, context, or interesting details.   Reduce the whole anecdote to two sentences, which is enough detail for him to hang one of his buzzwords on it: “This is yet another example of blahblahblah.” And then move on to the next one. “I’m going to take your whole academic paper, steal your conclusions, leave out all your explanations, and then slap my own buzzword on it. My job is done here! Time for snacks!”


Like he complains that gaijin students at Japanese colleges are “segregated” into a “ghetto” – but doesn’t mention if those students speak Japanese or not. Um, dude? Don’t you think that’s kind of important when determining how racist or not that situation is? Man? Sir?


Another problem :  when McVeigh relates stories about daigaku doing shady things – he never distinguishes between the super-elite daigaku that all the kids go to cram school to get into and the barely-functional, seat-of-the-pants daigaku that do whatever just to survive on the streets. This omission is an especially big problem when he deals with the issue of entrance exam tests.


Also, he keeps complaining that Japanese daigaku aren’t serious about teaching useful skills, and that students aren’t serious about learning. True! But! Even the most noob-ish JET teacher knows that in Japan, daigaku is a reward for busting your ass through junior high and high school. It’s play-time. And also it’s a way to make connections with other students, who will help you get jobs. And in Japan, you learn what you need to learn on the job.


We all know this. But McVeigh persists in being shocked/scandalized by it.

The same way, he keeps writing about fakery, but acts like he’s never heard of tatemae and honne before, although I’m sure he has. It’s unclear if he simply thinks that “tatemae/honne” is some bullshit, or if he thinks that the problem of "simulated education"  is totally unrelated.


It’s like, OK, it is fucked up. Of course it’s fucked up. But don’t act like you don’t know the deal, McVeigh. He says 100 times, “Look, it’s phoney!” without even one time saying, “OK, here is the context of higher education in Japan, which explains quite logically the reason why it’s phoney.” 


I’m not saying he should roll over like “Oh, cultural relativism and all that, I’ll just show myself the door.”

But as an anthropolo-linguisto-scholo-teacher-guy, it’s his damn job to learn the culture that he’s trying to explain. He's all like, “The only analytical tools I will use are European anthropology and French intellectual tools. These are pure universal truth, and I don’t need to use anything else.”


It’s like he’s a parody of how Japanese people see westerners and our universal morals.


And then there’s this gem of a paragraph:


“The proclaimed aims of an institution bear little relation to its actual activities, and yet, in a certain sense, the institution still functions. . . . It should be stressed that to merely accuse Japan’s higher education system as suffering from bad quality hides and interesting truth about why institutions to not collapse even though they do not fulfill their stated function. The hundreds of daigaku that make up Japan’s higher education system illustrate well what I have elsewhere called “institutional mendacity.” I have argued that daigaku are beyond the mode of “institutional subversion” (failure) because they still “function” in a manner of speaking (McVeigh, 2002). Daigaku survive because though they may not function as learning sites, they are successful as institutions that employ professors and store students waiting for work.”


Rad things about this:


  • He’s openly pissed that daigaku can continue to function, even though they don't fit his theories.
  • He cites himself as a reference.
  • “institutional subversion” (failure) . . .He has to add “(failure)” in parenthesis, because he knows nobody uses his jargon of “institutional subversion.”


Anyway – I'll now move on to what the book is about, instead of just dumping on it.




McVeigh looks at Japanese education in terms of gift exchange. Why gifts? Because gifts were around before capitalism or communism – they’re the one constant among all cultures.


And all gift-exchanges (according to McVeigh’s theory) have three stages: 1) giving, 2) accepting the gift, and 3) reciprocating.


So McVeigh is looking at modern governments as very sophisticated gift-exchange machines: the State gives us an army, police, fire-fighters, hospitals, and education. And in return, the citizens reciprocate by paying taxes, fighting in wars, being obedient, and (of course) going to cram school 6 hours a day.


But, how to tell if the gifts are equal? If I give you dessert, and you want to give me some gay porn in return, how do we determine how many issues of INCHES equal one 2 pound pecan pie?


By the same token, who decides how much tax/dead soldiers/ hours of study is equal to the government’s services? The government, that’s who. And that’s how they get ya. Like how the odds of the games in a casino always favor the house.

Also : currencies. How do kids pay back the state? Not gay porn (anymore) . . . like other countries, they repay with good grades or lots of time wasted studying . . . But there’s also another form of currency that is unique to Japan is what McVeigh calls “dramatic presentations of self”: in other words, you don’t just have to do the work, but act (to your teachers, etc.) like you LIKE doing the work, like that is the most important thing in your life. Next thing you know – boom – you’re lying to YOURSELF about what kind of person you are. Alienation!


(Spoiler alert: He’s really against alienation)


McVeigh makes a metaphor:


Fair gift-exchanges are like this: I give you a nickel for a bottle of wine.

Unfair exchanges are like this: I give you a wooden nickel. Or I give you a real nickel but you give me an empty bottle.

“Simulated” exchanges are beyond unfair: I give you a wooden nickel for your empty wine bottle.

And that’s daigaku in a nutshell.


McVeigh says, “What’s the harm of pretending, if both parties are in on it? It is all just an act, a victimless crime of exchange.” But, he warns : this much fakery must harm society. Somehow. Down the line. Although he himself admits he can’t prove how. 

I get the sense he actually hopes it harms Japan, since Japan deserves it.


If he would just have stuck with “Teachers falsifying attendance and grades is bullshit,” then he’d have an open-and-shut case. But then, he wouldn’t need all this confusing and important-sounding “gift dynamic circuitry of the educatio-capitalist establishment” hullabaloo. And his book wouldn't sound properly "academic."


So who’s really putting up fronts, whitey?





One of the better themes of the book is how Japanese authorities are super-paranoid about outsiders giving gifts freely: The Man seems to want a monopoly on gift-giving, so that everyone owes only him.


The state is a jealous god ; thus the tax regulations about gift-giving (to impede the amassing of wealth in families) and laws about who can and cannot receive presents from companies and foreign nations (designed to insulate the regular Japanese gift-giving loop from outsiders bearing gifts).


He points out that the state doesn’t like juku (cram schools, college-prep tutors)  because the juku give gifts to students without official permission : the students start to owe the juku more than the state.

And then two more anecdotes on this theme, from his days as a professor at a daigaku:

When the daigaku president threw a small cheese and wine party for the faculty, and administrator complained. The real issue was how the president had circumvented the daigaku’s patronage network: by financing the party with his own funds, the president ‘s kindness threatened the administrator’s financial and patronage control over teachers.


A similar event occurred when a non-Japanese teacher planned at ea party that he said he’d pay for the tea: he was told that “food was not allowed” in the special events room, even though it was allowed for events which the administration held (meaning, that their permission was needed, and those events were ‘gifts’ from the administration).





A major form of academic corruption is just plain money. Surprise! Since Japan’s population is declining, colleges face declining enrollment. So! How do they deal with it?


“Some daigaku hold parties (not just on campus, but in restaurants, houseboats, etc.) and engage in ‘excesses of wining and dining’ high-school students.”


Also: bribing high-school teachers and guidance counselors to recommend a certain daigaku.


If that doesn’t work, the daigaku will advertise in China, Taiwan, or Korea. Sure, the students generally don’t go to class. They use the “student visa” as a work visa. And the daigaku becomes a "visa mill."


Like anywhere else, high-school students apply to many colleges. But in Japan, you have to pay upwards of $300 to take an “entrance test” for EACH daigaku. And many daigaku court high-school students that they know won’t pass, just to get that money. Not only that, the 'failure rate' of the exams is widely publicized, so the more students fail, the more prestigious your daigaku seems (high standards!), so the next year even more kids will sign up!


Then there’s a related scam: if you pass the exam to, say, 3 different daigaku, then you have to pay around $6,000 as a “deposit” to hold your place. If you decide on daigaku A, then the other two daigaku will keep your deposit. It’s unclear if this is legal, or Japanese people just don’t want to make a big fuss about it.


Another way daigaku get paid, is hospitals! Japanese hospitals need one or two doctors from high-prestige medical schools in order to attract patients. It’s good PR. But they can only get those doctors by giving lots of “research grants” to the medical schools.




Once students are in,   it’s bad form to let them drop out.


Failing students are allowed to re-take tests, students who can’t even come to the minimum 2/3 of classes get their attendance records fudged, and even students who are accused of harassment or rape find their alleged crimes covered up.


“Also, many daigaku maintain two types of transcripts, one for the institutional face (a doctored version submitted to prospective employers that does not record too many failures and poor attendance), and the other for its interior (a record of a student’s actual performance).”


Furthermore, many students ‘double school’, that is, while they are formally going to daigaku, they simultaneously attend vocational schools to acquire ‘real’ credentials.”


Professors are typically told to give 20 percent A7s, 50 percent B’s, and 20 percent C’s. and some, I noticed, just skip evaluation altogether and give everyone the same grade.

 Other professors routinely give the whole class ‘A’s. McVeigh includes a copy of an adorable memo  where the administration encourages professors to give other grades sometimes.This is one of my favorite parts of the book.


A Japanese professor told McVeigh, “If I attempted to teach difficult material, the students would ignore me and others would suddenly ask to go to the bathroom and never return. . . . Just keep them busy and entertain them.”


McVeigh explains this ‘A-mania’ by saying Japanese professors don’t want responsibility for giving bad grades, since it creates conflict. Parents will raise hell:

There have been cases of teachers having failed students only to face repeated pressure in the form of phone calls, letter, and fax messages from school personnel – who often face pressure from parents in turn.


When students fail, they are asked to write a report, and still get to pass the class. This demoralizes the students who bothered to study.


At one daigaku, students who didn’t turn in their senior theses on time were allowed to graduate but were penalized by not being allowed to attend the graduation party.


The rule of thumb is, if you miss a third of classes, you fail. But not only do students routinely miss more and NOT fail (they write a busy-work paper instead), but faculty spend lots of time debating whether it would be rude to even TELL the students “You’re coming close to the 33% limit.”


Funny story:  conservative bureaucrats point to this poor attendance as the inevitable result of “Western individualist values” that are wrecking Japan, so the solution is: less of those. In other words, even more 'hollowing out' of the meaning of education.


Also: daigaku seniors routinely used to miss lots of classes as they look for jobs. There was an unspoken understanding that “job-hunting absences” are not “real” absences, and the students should not be punished for them, since the daigaku exists not to teach, but to keep Japan strong by getting everyone a good job. But since 1997, the corporations have fucked up the deal, starting to interview juniors as well. SO now both junior-year and senior-year absenteeism is at an all-time high.


To McVeigh, this shows that even Japanese businesses think daigaku is just "simulated learning": they know they are causing kids to miss class, but they think the classes are a joke, so who cares? Fuck your classes, professor!




McVeigh says this “never fail anyone” phenomenon “seems to be” more common at daigaku with “falling enrollments.” But there’s no data. How many of these shady practices are on the rise compared to 40 years ago? How many of them go on at big-name universities?


And how was it different around 1900 -1920, when Japan needed to teach real substantial stuff in order to industrialize and catch up to the West?


It would be nice if McVeigh had investigated how much of this type of corruption was all about the tuition cash, how much was the “If we admit there are problems at our shit, then we lose face, so cover it up” mentality, and how much was simply that “unspoken understanding” thing that the Japanese are so fond of (In this case, an unspoken understanding between daigaku and parents).


Seriously, though, what about the parents? Do they think, “Oh that happens at other schools, not my kid’s school!” or do they think, “OK maybe that happens at my kid’s school, but since MY kid would never fail an exam, or skip class, who cares?” Or do they honestly not know?


Are parents like, “Well, my son/daughter worked so hard in high school, he/she deserves some play time before entering the corporations”? Do parents understand that daigaku is all about connections? 


They pressured their kid to go to cram school 60 hours a week to get in a good daigaku . .. Do they apply the same pressure their kids to network with their classmates from more powerful families?




The whole “never hold students accountable” thing is attributed to a Japanese concept: amae, which means mutual dependence (like between a child and mother). It's traditional,  but some Japanese say  that too much amae (especially amae between a grown-up and institutions) stunts emotional growth, rendering everyone a perpetual child in some ways.


The students are  allowed to misbehave on campus (not just poor attendance but violence and bullying) without any consequences, because they’re just big kids. The kids get the message and act childish. It becomes a chicken-and-egg question. In fact the whole daigaku system as described by McVeigh seems to be a classic case of Japan’s “leaderless society.” : nobody (not the teachers, the ministry of education, the administration, or the parents) takes responsibility for students who get out of line.


The concept that college is supposed to make you an adult (taking responsibility for yourself, learning how to deal with different types of people, how not to get taken advantage of in the real world, and so on) never caught on in Japan. Let’s keep them kids, so that they depend on us and are not able to develop into individuals.  


In keeping with the concept of amae, the students are openly referred to as children. In instructor at a graduate school noted that among thirteen students aged 22 to 26, only one said “I am an adult.” Eleven said “I am a child” and one said “I don’t know.”


But here's the thing: amae is ALSO a concept that is important when you join a Japanese company. Workers who are independent, even if they get things done, stand out and make everyone else look bad.


So it’s a question of, is the university’s priority supposed to be helping kids get good jobs, or making them not be ignorant?

Which leads to the other big question: do kids have to choose between being educated and being ‘Japanese?’

 These questions sort of hover over the entire book.





But, McVeigh cautions, it’s not just that the students are lazy. Many are overburdened with studying – except that it’s pretend studying:


Enduring monotonous lectures, studying for boring materials and preparing for poorly designed tests. Moreover, students take between 12 and 20 different subjects per week.

And yet, the papers they write don’t have to be good:

Students are encouraged not to worry about such irrelevancies as clarity, organization , or logic. Papers may consist entirely of quotations.


Best quote of the whole book is an unnamed Japanese professor, which McVeigh cribs from another academic, and I in turn crib from McVeigh:


Rather quickly I began to get an image of students crowded like lobsters or crabs sloshing somewhat lethargically about in a large aquarium tank. Young yuppies in training for the boiling pot of company life. Undergraduate university here seems to be a yuppie holding tank, a place to put all these exhausted young people , while they wait for jobs. It’s a place of clubs of every type and description, numerous holidays (about 4 months of the year) and a policy of ‘attend and you’ll pass’. Little in our department at least suggests academic rigor, simulations of ideas, scholarship. Or much in the way of learning. These are the years the students get to “relax” after the tremendous effort to get to university and before the overwhelming dedication required in their future company careers. Mind you, if relax means over twenty classes five days a week, I’d hate to see what hard work is. It’s a strange combination of long hours of work with the atmosphere of a summer camp holiday. It combines the two overriding principles that I sense in Japanese society: appearance and endurance.


In other words, here's the priority: Attitude and scores at the top, actually being smart or curious or learning things you can use in everyday life at the bottom.


Which is, to be fair, what most corporations want to hire. In Japan, attitude, getting along with groups, and following proper procedures are important, while results, choosing your own groups, and being logical are not.


It was reported that students spend 26.5 hours per week studying. Since this includes time in class, which averages 24 to 26 hours a week, this number is not very impressive.


And as for the kids . . . All this cutting class and failing tests – is that a symptom of kids enjoying themselves too much, or a symptom of kids resenting the meaningless emptiness of it all?


In other words, do the kids have a consensus on the 'college is playtime for us, our learning is all simulated' issue? Do they think it’s good or bad?


Frustratingly, McVeigh doesn't go into this at all. It’s not clear to what extent the kids know that college is supposed to be a holding pen / playtime / place to make connections for future work.


 Towards the end of the book, McVeigh briefly examines why some students feel let down by the colleges they worked so hard to get in: Class sizes are huge, the professors drone on, heedless if the students are paying attention or not. Other students talk so loud that one can’t hear the teacher.  Asking questions is discouraged.

Reports which students work very hard on are seldom handed back. So the students don’t know what the teacher thought of their shit, or even if the teacher read it at all.


But McVeigh doesn’t say if these complaints are common (which would hint that the average Japanese high schooler actually wants  a western-style university) or uncommon (which would mean that Japanese high schoolers are savvy about the ‘real’ meaning of daigaku).


Again, the problem with STATE BEARING GIFTS is: no actual new research, no talking to real people.




I’ll give you the gift of “automatically passing the classes no matter what you do,” if you give me the gift of “continuing to pay tuition despite being overwhelmed with meaningless work and alienated from all the other students who just plain don’t give a shit.”





As for the professors, with all the kids texting, talking, and eating in class. . .they don’t seem to give a shit, as long as they have a captive audience, and they can talk about any old thing without getting in trouble or getting asked questions.


Bombshell: Very few daigaku professors hold doctorates.


The problems of Japanese professors could fill an entire book. Professors are hired and promoted the same way as salarimen: connections and seniority, not talent or published papers / research. So you wind up with  “elite” universities where around 80% of the faculty is made up of former students, who all got their jobs because they were students of  the department chair (the most senior professor of the department).


Pleasing the chair and waiting your turn for promotion is the most important. If you actually published papers and discovered new theories, you’d make the chair look bad by comparison.


Foreign teachers, on the other hand, are treated like all foreign employees: temporary, outside the patronage network, not told the reasons for decisions, and easy to fire. In contrast to foreign salarimen (who might be viewed as necessary in selling the company’s product to foreigners), foreign professors are basically decoration.

Since "University" is a Western invention, the thinking goes, we need some Westerners around to make it look authentic. The fact that university values re: education have been “hollowed out” and made Japanese doesn’t matter. Of course the gaijin – being prestige-enhancing decorations – have to have good credentials, published papers, and hopefully be bilingual.


Which is not expected of Japanese professors, because Japanese professors came by their jobs the right way: patronage networks.


Whereas , in the USA, we have so many foreign students and teach them so many legitimate skills, there’s a huge problem of all the good jobs going overseas, as foreigners leave America and go home to start their own high-tech companies, while American kids are so fat and lazy they couldn’t even get into the universities in the first place and wind up working at Foot Locker.





The role of juku in all of this is one of the best parts of the book:

Juku are cram schools that you go to after regular high school – why you see some junior high kids just getting "out of class"  at 7PM.  Certain juku specialize in training you to pass certain high-status universities' entrance examinations.


For years, the Education Ministry has been unhappy with juku, presumably because better-heeled families could use juku to give their children an unfair advantage. In the late 1990s, however, the Ministry changed its policy from ignoring juku to integrating them into the formal schooling experience. It recommended that juku start doing science experiments and field trips, and that PTAs work more closely with them. The state, apparently fearing that juku could short-circuit its own gift-exchange, felt compelled to incorporate them.


But then the juku flipped the script: around eleven high-status juku are now actually HELPING UNIVERSITIES WRITE THE TESTS. Which is like hiring a wolf to guard your hen-house. But then again, juku actually have test specialists on their staff, whereas university tests are written by professors with no test-writing or test-taking experience. It’s almost exactly like how the Japanese parliament is run by pols with no experience making laws so they let the bureaucracy write all the laws.


Needless to say, there are a lot of scandals with test questions being leaked.






McVeigh drops the bomb:


The truth is that around 40 to 50 percent of students who are accepted into a daigaku do not take the exams at all; instead they are recommended by their high school teachers, or sit through highly perfunctory “interviews”.


Entrance exams are sold to the public as very egalitarian, scientific, and fair: anyone can apply! Even poor kids have a shot at the middle-class life! You don’t even have to be smart – as long as you make the effort you can get in! Tests are numbers, and numbers don’t lie!


However, despite the scientific and super-ritualized way the exams are conducted (armored cars to take the tests to the place they’re graded! The entire teaching staff monitoring the students for cheating! The entire teaching staff walks the students to and from the exam room! You have exactly 24.43455 minutes to finish this section! Place your pencils at an exact 94 degree angle on your desk (which must be 102.5 centimeters wide – the exact width scientifically calculated for optimum test results!) to signal that you have finished!), the actual way the daigaku are run behind the scenes is very seat-of-the-pants and do-do-doop-dee-doop-de-durr-durr.

Daigaku are expected to evaluate their own quality: how students are selected, credits awarded,and grades assigned.They could be spinning a wheel of fortune. Who knows? That's not disclosed to anyone.

Daigaku lack any sort of third-party evaluations to keep them honest. Although – speaking of honesty – I don’t even have a fraction of a clue if America’s universities have “third-party” evaluation, and how successful that evaluation is. You’d think that since this whole book is based on a comparison of “Japan=bad, America=good,” McVeigh would bother to explain how America does it. Does anyone reading this know?

He keeps saying that daigaku provide only “simulations of” learning, and that there is no system of measuring how effective the teaching is . . .but doesn’t compare them to senmongakkou (technical or vocational schools), which to me would be the natural thing to do. I mean, senmongakkou have to teach real skills: you can’t “simulate” knowing how to use a belt-sander, or you’ll lose your fingers.


And I’m sure senmongakkou also have a big bureaucracy. So how do THEY deal with it?


ANYWAY, returning to the "exam hell" :

Almost no entrance examinations are written by people who specialize in writing tests. The daigaku professors, who have not taken a test in decades, have no idea what makes a test fair or unfair, have never cracked a book about test-writing. . . .they just meet in a back room somewhere and throw out the most random questions possible.


For example in 1998, Meiji daigaku’s school of political science asked from which parts of the bible certain quotations came. Some multiple choice questions ask respondents to select from lists of options that often contain more than one potentially correct answer. Some questions expect examinees to have deep knowledge of subjects that were never taught in high schools, while other questions are too easy to be of any use in assessing a person’s abilities. In short, test makers seem to be giving little thought to their questions or to the realities of examinees.


(Again, though, this kind of arbitrary guessing-game  prepares students for the salaryman life where, “the boss says one, and the worker hears ten.”)


Examinations themselves have lost their original purpose and are not evaluating knowledge acquisition, but rather assessing one’s endurance determination and loyalty to the authorities that administer (those tests). This all concerns another myth about education an examinations: students may have suffered through rote memorization but having prepared for all those tests they must have learned a great deal. The truth is that examination preparation is not even rote memorization but more like an empty and highly ritualized drill.


Examples of these meaningless questions? Exactly none. God damn it.


Does anyone out there have a copy of English language questions from these tests?


Speaking of those who design English examinations, McVeigh quotes an un-named source as saying that professors ‘ . . .are concerned not so much with what an English text has to say, but rather with the frequency with which particular words or idioms are tested in these exams. Statistics replace meaning. In this process of converting words into numbers, some lecturers find an intellectual excitement peculiar to their occupation, a certain relief in what is held to be the reliability of the calculation. Some even talk with a complacent, almost tantalizing air as they explain their technique for deriving the correct answers for questions without having to bother to read the text the questions are being asked about.’



The contradiction of exam hell and yet not knowing anything;

50 percent of daigaku are taking some measures to bridge the gap between what students learned at high school and what they should have learned before entering universities.” In other words, remedial classes.


But wait , you say. Next to Korea, Japan has the most ruthless “exam hell” in the world. These students have to pass these exams to get into college, so how could they possibly be remedial??


McVeigh doesn’t say. Huh?


Reading between the lines, I am going to guess that the “stuff you are supposed to know by the time you get to college” is stuff that the high schools skipped teaching, in order to devote more time to helping students prep for the college entrance exams.

If that’s not the reason, then WTF?


exams and hensachi:

Japanese tend to rank daigaku by their hensachi. And what’s a hensachi? The ratio of students that failed the entrance exam for that particular daigaku. If 9 out of 10 students pass, that daigaku must be pretty desperate for students, thus low-class. But. If only 1 in 10 students passes, then that daigaku must have really high standards, and not only that, but it must be really popular, so I want to go there too!

Hensachi sounds very scientific, standardized and fair, because it’s a percentage. But. Since each daigaku uses a different exam, the hensachi number doesn’t really measure one school against the others. I mean, I could make up a test tomorrow that 99% of kids would fail, but that wouldn’t mean that my daigaku was the best, or even that I had a daigaku. Since all my questions would be based on Wu-Tang lyrics.


But, the more entrance exams that a daigaku schedules, the more money they make. And the more people fail, the more prestigious the daigaku looks. It’s a win-win!


To grossly simplify matters, in Japan’s schools there are two ways to judge people: nouryoku-shugi (ability-ism), and doryoku shugi (effort-ism).


The problem with doryoku shugi is that it makes kids waste their childhood competing to see who can waste the most hours, while holding back kids who are actually smarter.


The problem with noryoku shugi is that it’s elitist and not egalitarian.


Many daigaku are reportedly afraid of improving entrance examinations because this might scare away students (who have spent 3 years In cram schools dedicated to passing the current tests).


“Motivated by fears that the masses are not receiving a fair deal from officialdom, many Japanese people ask how exams could be made more egalitarian. Such discussions assume that the exam machinery itself works for individuals, and it just needs more oil to make it run smoother. However, the fact is, the exams and the education system work for state and capitalist interests. More than just a testing system, it’s more like an “examocracy.”


In other words, fucked exams are not a bug, they’re a feature. In order to pass the exams, you have to study until 7 PM for all your teenage years, all the while knowing that the information on the test is not useful in real life. In a way, the exams aren’t the point. If they were, they would be full of useful questions. The point of the whole system – test, cram school, and all – is to separate “kids who want to play” from “kids who have no problem giving up the best years of their lives for a reward that will come after retirement.”

The ’public face’ of education is that the system is designed to produce and reward smart kids. The ‘private face’, known only to administrators and bureaucrats, is that the educational system is designed to weed out anyone with a shred of individuality – anyone who wants a childhood, anyone who wants to leave school at 3 PM instead of 7,anyone who doesn’t understand that the unwritten rules are the most important. What the kid “officially” learns on the test is almost beside the point.


 Which brings us to . . .



Why is it important to do all this soul-killing in the first place? Here lies an interesting issue, one which McVeigh totally doesn’t get into because he just blithely blames it on ‘capitalist forces’.


The bureaucrats would say that they’re just ‘preserving Japanese culture’. You or I might say that they’re really trying to make kids ideal obedient workers for big business, and that ‘real’ Japanese values might be a little more tolerant, sensible, flexible, and friendly. But, being a foreigner, I don’t know that much about the nuances of traditional Japanese values. And regular Japanese, I’m afraid, are trained not to even ask the difference between the two. So there’s a good debate to be had re: are pro-business, obedient values REALLY all there is to traditional culture?


And another, more general debate to be had about: should universities teach skills to get you a good job, and socialize students so they will blend in with society, and therefore be successful? Or should universities teach facts and make people smarter, more curious, and more able to explain the world around themselves?


And why do those two things seem to overlap more in some countries than in others?

And here's what I REALLY want to know:

To what extent is there a consensus among Japanese people about the meaning of daigaku? What makes this an interesting question is, YOU CAN’T ASK IT. Even discussing it would mean admitting that, right now, daigaku is not about education at all.


So you can’t even have a debate about, “Should we have daigaku to produce smart people or daigaku for playtime and networking?”


So to me, that would have been a good place to start the book. But what do I know, I’m not a teacher.



DISHING ON HIS FORMER EMPLOYER (nice work if you can get it!)


McVeigh spends not one but two whole chapters dishing dirt on his former Japanese school, Amadera Women’s Academy, which, try as I might, I keep reading as Madeira Women’s Academy, which makes me thirsty.


Apparently this is a thing with McVeigh: he has at least one other book (THE MYTH OF JAPANESE HIGHER EDUCATION) which dishes on a different Japanese university he taught at. And you wonder why they don’t trust gaijin!   According to the book jacket, McVeigh currently teaches at Arizona Univeristy. So maybe in another couple years we can read “WHAT THE FUCK, ARIZONA? YOU ALL CAN’T LEARN FOR SHIT: an Analysis of American Higher Education by Brian McVeigh, Professor at Munich University in Germany.”


But seriously though, I really like the dishing-on-work genre. I think it’s really under-rated. The whole “zines” fad of the ‘90s was as pathetic as everything from the ‘90s. But there was one zine I will never forgive myself for not copping: some anonymous gay Midwestern gynaecologist, talking shit about his clients’ repulsive lady parts.


So, back to Madeira, I mean Amadera Woman’s Academy. Apparently the school president  wanted to make a very western, feminist, girl-power school. Although you can by this point probably guess how that turned out, McVeigh’s eye for gruesome details is fascinating.


First: the idea that women having more power = less Japanese and more western.


Second : Both the library and computer lab were only open during class hours, and closed after class.


Third : The campus had walls on all four sides, and Students all had to come and to through one gate which had guards. Students didn’t have their own mailboxes “because it might lead to bullying.” Students could not have their pictures taken for PR materials, because other students might get jealous, and this too might lead to bullying. Still another excuse I heard had it that if their pictures appeared on such materials, men might consume the PR brochure as pornography.


Fourth :  there’s a RAD example of how Japanese have their own unique twist on things like “women's studies professor” and “union member”:   At a faculty meeting in which the application procedures of adult students was being discussed, all union members strongly supported the submission of an “employer’s permission form to attend the daigaku” by adult students. The suggestion by non-Japanese professors that having an adult woman ask her male boss permission to attend university during her free time violated the daigaku’s mission of women’s empowerment was completely lost on the union members. After the meeting, a Japanese female professor explained to me why she voted in favor of requesting the permission: due to Japan’s “unique culture”, workers “should give their all to their employers. We should be on call for them at all times.”


Female faculty waiting on male faculty – making tea, serving food, pouring drinks at social events – because it was a “Japanese custom.”  Foreign faculty's attempts to reduce sexist regulations in the student handbook were met with stiff resistance. Interestingly, it was not only the middle-aged males but also the female faculty and staff who were the most adamant in retaining and implementing such regulations.


Seems they were worried – at the feminist empowerment international school – that girls might go off campus and get some dick. Which, date-rape is a serious problem. But rather than deal with the problem by holding self-defense classes and raising awareness, they dealt with it the amae way : keeping the students childlike and naive about sexual predators, so that they could bestow the “gift” of safety on them through 24/7 supervision.


Well I still don’t agree with McVeigh's  method of writing the book, now I can totally see where he got his “Fuck cultural relativism, this is just bullshit” attitude from!



REAL DAIGAKU (hidden from all) AND BIZARRO DAIGAKU (students and teachers)


The main lesson from the downfall of Amadera is this :

The way bureaucrats ruin everything.


The Education Ministry passed all the president’s radical reforms. But within a few years everything was all back to normal. The reason? The president (like the Prime Minister), has very little power. In fact, the whole “teach kids things” part of the daigaku (director, dean, professors, students) is actually kind of a little useless appendix, dangling from the body. The real “body” of the daigaku is the administration, whose board of directors is , let’s assume, mostly Education Ministry amakudari.

And the real purpose of the daigaku is to support and nurture and empower the bureaucracy. Who controls the funding. So rather than fight the director outright, the Ministry allowed his reforms, then made sure the administration voted systematically to defund them. Doh! And in true Japanese style, McVeigh notes that as a mere teacher (and a gaijin at that!) it was like pulling teeth to even find out who in the administration was even making these decisions.

Teachers are outsiders. Power means you don’t have to tell outsiders who is making decisions.


Also: Because enrollments were so low, a fair number of faculty had no classes to teach. However, the Education Ministry has a rule: new daigaku can’t fire anyone for four years. So the classless teachers were given fake work to do: forming groups and having meetings all day. It seems that the teachers’ meetings and groups were bizarro versions of the groups that already existed in the administration, except the bizzarro versions had no power and didn’t do anything. For example, there was a teacher’s committee on admissions standards, but they merely rubber-stamped rules laid down by the administration’s own committee on admissions standards. Of course the administration’s committee was run by bureaucrats, whose only concern was financial, not educational.


Which brings us to .. .




The Ministry does more than install its amakudari in all the top posts of University administrations (both public and private). It also “donates” about 50% of the funding for private daigaku, and can suddenly withhold those subsidies, should those private daigaku manage to tune out the blazhay blazhay of the amakudari.


But that’s not all.


The Ministry seems to be pursuing two contradictory policies at the same time:


ONE: keep on granting applications/creating new daigaku, even though it’s clear that student population is declining, and these new daigaku can’t succeed.


TWO: taking over the failed daigaku, the same way they take over failing banks. (see my report on AMAKUDARI for more of this). Basically they take two or more fucked daigaku and merge them, which is supposed to make them leaner, meaner, and more efficient. However, students now have to routinely commute between two distant campuses for classes, libraries, and student clubs. Also the new “merged” daigaku are run directly by the Ministry. And the Ministry folks, even more than their amakudari, are interested in totally sidelining what remains of education.


Their image of a “perfect daigaku” is one that cares only about the statistics : attendance, test scores, and so on. The actual content of the classes can’t be quantified as a number, so what use is it? Students come in, numbers come out, and as long as the numbers keep going up, we are getting more efficient! For example, since low enrollment is a problem, let’s dumb down entrance exams AND course content. Numbers go up, Problem solved! (the problem being the high numbers of bureaucrats and administrators who might lose their jobs if unpopular daigaku go under)


If the graduates can’t get jobs with their bullshit degrees, who cares? We’re the Education Ministry – our job is to help daigaku administrators. Let the Economy Ministry handle the unemployed graduates. Sheesh! Don’t act like you’ve never seen a bureaucracy before!


McVeigh also relates suspicions from un-named Japanese that the Education Ministry likes building new daigaku for which there is no demand because it helps the construction industry, keeps unemployed youth off the streets, and expands the Ministry’s territory all over Japan.


Another funny thing about bureaucracy:


There is a paradox that each time the nature of this structural problem manifests itself as a tragedy, tighter is exercised to further strengthen the very system which caused the problem.


In other words, too much centralized, top-down state control over daigaku keeps enrollment down, because students don’t have a choice over different types of curricula or learning styles. And the solution to poor attendance is to exercise even more top-down control, to “give guidance” to the ailing daigaku industry. A vicious circle.




Yeah, most other countries of all races “get” the meaning of universities. And yeah, Japan has a long history of “hollowing out” foreign concepts, removing threatening foreign ideas, and producing a “Japanese version” which is sometimes unrecognizable. (which is also a phenomenon that McVeigh ignores). And yeah, if you remove foreign ideas from university – well, university is nothing BUT ideas, right? So that’s probably not going to work well.


Western university is kind of the super pure raw and uncut version of western Enlightenment values, so it’s gonna have an especially hard time in Japan.


The concept that naturally smart kids should beat dumb kids that try hard threatens the Japanese “kumi system” (where all people, (kids OR adults) that enter an organization advance together as one), the sempai-kohai system, and the all-important ganbarre!


The concept of “facts” being “right and wrong regardless of the situation”   (and the related concept of “flunking tests means flunking tests regardless of the situation) fucks with aimai, honnne-tatemae. . . the whole Japanese relational (or context-based) morality.


Also, the dreaded CRITICAL THINKING.


The idea that universities are supposed to teach individual-over-the-state, universal values like freedom, justice, fight the Man, and so on, is not going to go over very well either.


The idea that “knowledge is not a percent rank on a test to impress an authority, knowledge is power, to make the individual a stronger more independent person and change the world” threatens the Japanese idea of . . . oh, let’s say . . . amae, and also threatens the Education Ministry’s patronage system.


And : the idea that the university is supposed to be based on science, which is to say, inventing new things and concepts. As if that wasn’t bad enough, science can only progress if people disagree with each other constantly, junior faculty call bullshit on nobel winners who declare cold fusion is rad, and etc. This threatens, you guessed it, WA, giri, honne-tatemae, lord knows what else.


The western University is supposed to turn kids into adults, not by hammering them with rules but by making them aware of their responsibility to save the world, and forcing them to deal with all different kinds of cultures/ thoughts, so they can interact respectfully with all the different kinds of people that they will meet in adult life. This also horrendously messes not just with amae, but with group-consciousness (shuudan ishiki), and the Japanese sense of uniqueness. A triple threat.


I’m not saying that all American universities actually stay true to all these ideals, or that American students are all super hard working kids who try to promote academic freedom instead of taking bong hits while looking at facebook. Just  saying that the foundations of universities are not a good fit with Japan.


To return to the central theme: SHOULD UNIVERSITIES BE ABOUT MAKING PEOPLE SMART OR SHOULD THEY BE ABOUT GUARANTEEING THE KIDS GOOD JOBS UPON GRADUATION? . . . here’s another impossible debate: shouldn’t kids (or at least their parents) be allowed to decide for themselves if learning x,y,and z would fuck up their amae or not?

“Do you personally think that learning universal values and fact (rather than context based) reasoning would fuck up your  ability to work in teams?"

 “Do you personally feel that learning critical thinking, independent work habits, and individual responsibility would fuck up your future career and make you less Japanese?”

 It's amazing how many of these debates are impossible to even have!


the readers have spoken!

I can't believe all the fan mail I've been getting that got stuck in my stupid spam filter.  Here I was thinking that the audience for rants about WWII Shinto extremism and  tuna-fisherman cosplay bands was very limited, but it turns out there were over a thousand thank you letters that i came THIS CLOSE to deleting by mistake. Anyway, rather than just answer one at a time, I'll print them all here:

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th infant begins to burble month, says “no”, “This,” “commitment,” then consists of syllables, words like “no-ma-ma” “da-da-da.” Most children, ahead finishing the principal year of lifestyle, disclose “mama” or “dad.” Exciting that the senior interview terminates your baby? If you prerequisite to assistance him, on with.

Where are the eyes, nose, mouth? ? Enquire after your youngster to be struck by shown the different parts of the body (his own, or to go to example a teddy reconcile oneself to) yield authority over of his hand. Ended nonetheless, your toddler starts to do it yourself. Learn the significance of green words, is also starting to take the command.

Pore over along ? of certainly the proper reading too early, but we start with colorful pictures in the booklets. Betray your sprog what he sees in the visualize (through despite norm, “This is a teddy bear and a dog.” It’s a honourable erudition the meanings of words that the child begins to indicate in the second year of life.

Voices of animals ? during a pop in to the bedlam or in the countryside, watching the books tell the youth how to “state” animals ? cats meowing “miauu” barking dog “hau-hau,” goat matches “meee” etc. You can also mimic other sounds ? ticking clock, the fit as a fiddle of the engine, the unceasing of the locomotive, sleds, etc. sense that is endless.

Or perchance a poem? ? Do you remember the rhymes, rhymes, lullabies from my childhood ? recall, look in the booklets. Be familiar with along or singing. Such entertainment to increase speech, but also a child’s imagination. And influential knowledge ? reading from an primeval period inculcate your boy to appreciate books. It is nowadays very valuable!

Psychologists and neuroscientists jibe consent to that the sooner the better, maybe stable from birth. There is of course no topic of teaching the conventional classroom, children should be suitably intrigued.

The children are younger, that have a wiser recollection, greater facility of repeated listening and pact the interpretation of sentences ? from the context. This is because babies do not acquire a foreign argot alongside winsome in the proceeding of the pamper tongue. What’s more, obtain it upstanding as their matriarch tongue. These choice qualities, combined with the spontaneous curiosity of children let someone have them to exquisite mastery of lingo, which is usually English.

What studies say

According to infant experts consequence condition of learning the constitutional terminology of with two years of mature and when is the with greatest satisfaction in good time always to start contacting the right hand language. This is because the youngest very easily assimilating new information, they also get the ability to learn two languages ??simultaneously. The main unjaundiced of teaching a imported language at this length of existence is to promote 16 tydzien ciazy the comprehensive development of the lad, preparing him to journey catch to remember another customs and vernacular as all right as fueling the awakening and curiosity. Increasingly, youngsters with a unconnected language adventure begins in the preschool and anciently school period.

Bilingual families

In the epoch of the Internet and traveling the everybody family of two-or unchanging trilingual transpire more often. Then we talk about knowledge a inappropriate jargon about from birth. Late-model studies conduct that children learning to speak in a bilingual forebears, grow faster. This constitutes a disclaimer of the theory that inappropriate teens bilingualism slows sage condition of the toddler, although it happens that children who to gain up bilingual, then start talking. Some psychologists rely upon a youth has a stew with assigning heard statements to that language. Others again, scientists rely upon that the understanding of bilingual children win the capacity to twitch between languages, which affects his complete cognitive abilities. And for that reason the results of the tests. Unnatural to react to to the changing circumstances of the cognition effective use more flexibly. This does not ways that bilingual children are more rational than their monolingual peers.

Parents of bilingual children primarily emphasize consistency in speaking to a babe in a persnickety language around a parent or in a item-by-item situation. Skaza bialkowa u niemowlat Calculate the sundry advantages of bilingualism, on example, that bilingualism facilitates making trendy friends, because children themselves are more reliable. Conspiratorial two languages ??is also developing compliance in dealing with people and teaches self-reliance and resourcefulness of jargon, advantageous in learning more extraneous languages. In addition, developing bilingualism and homage exercises, as spurt as beautify the vocabulary of a lassie who is easier to contribute to up the “burgess of the world.”

Art is as a lark

Near teaching the youngest children a foreign language should be used to the the poop indeed that there are no barriers as adults and their astuteness is more receptive. Snitch it and set going it at any price to keep against boredom. Proficiency is fun and to be lucky, and also motivate the development of tongue skills, and boldness with, treaty, correct speech and emphasize, the gifts to create questions and answers. You can proposal your babe such as craft classes, games, gears activities, music, scholarship rhymes, telling stories or playing theaters, erudition and repeating all the words with which they can clash with in phone with the environment. Composed small, in our opinion, the living sagacity of a descendant has a gargantuan upon on his feeling of the world and erudition abilities, so you may lust after to use it.


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9 comments Tags: , , ,

gekiteki 9 : akiba kei

Akihabara style = akiba kei.  Music from the anime subculture can be gekiteki because people do acting: they pretend to be batman or whatever. . . they wear costumes and perform "in character." Within "akiba-kei", there's a whole genre of wanna-be teen idols that just sing one anime theme song after another, but the people I focus on tend to create their own unique characters and have a more consistent, conceptual,  rock-opera approach.

This is the last in the 9 parts of my GEKITEKI project.

It's also the least completed. Because I don'T know anyone from this subculture. Please help me out if you know a band that should be included in this category.


his is the end of the gekiteki project – but in a way it's also a BEGINNING- because from now on, we all have a resource. we all have this little corner of the net to point to. And hopefully in the months to come, maybe some new people will show up, or tell their friends . And in that way, I hope that new people show up looking for one band, and find dozens of other related bands that they didn't know about. and in return i hope that these people will help me fill in the many gaps in the information.

From now on , I'd like to see people sending in lyrics – especially lyrics that connect to themes that other bands also express. Also: album covers, especially if those album covers have some imagery or symbolism that connects to earlier bands. imagery that connects to particular avant-garde japanese theatre or design crews and etc. It'd all about building the invisible chains of influence!


Anyway, on with the actual report:


 伝承歌劇団 (denshouka gekidan)

MEANING : the literal translation is "Legend-song Theatre Troupe", but their "english name" is Legend of Europa.
CITY . . : tokyo
ERA . . . : 1995
SOUND . . : power metal!
THEATRICAL POINTS . . . : members are characters, they have a 'narrarator' who explains the plot between songs
CLIQUE . . . :
STYLE . . . : theatrical
ALBUM TO GET . . . : 月影の深淵

WEB . . . :, myspace


These are 4 older guys who are dressed like European royalty. But European royalty as often portrayed in cheesy ‘70s girl manga, which makes their main influence Japanese!

There was a huge trend of “prince charming”-type girl comics back in the ‘70s . . .which these guys are doing a power-metal version of. For women? For men? Who knows? Apparently this band’s main inspiration is the manga called SEINNTO SEIYA ('saints of the constellations') which had to do with constellations taking on human form (as European princes. . . if European princes were played by the drag-kings from Takarazuka all-women’s vegas-style showtune theatre) and fighting elaborate battles with one another.

Apparently these伝承歌劇団 guys also have characters and the songs tell the story of their own epic battles. Are they also constellations? Are they fighting each other ? or someone else???


Let's let their Myspace provide the answers:

"Densyou-Kagekidan" have many stories of each work and performance.
One of them who is 'storyteller' is special part of them, tells their stories or its change of situation to the audience.
Then other members in the band express different scenes with their song and music.
This band is exactly entertainer!




CITY . . :
ERA . . . :  2001~now
SOUND . . :
CLIQUE . . . :
STYLE . . . :
ALBUM TO GET . . . :
WEB . . . :  wikipedia, official page, fan site with intricate plot summaries of their "plays"
These guys apparently started out doing doujinshi (fan-made manga) and then started doing plays based on their manga, and now mostly put on these huge, Takarazuka-style plays, complete with dozens of characters! Amazing! The shows seem to be a mix of influences from fantasy-themed anime, mixed with Takarazuka theatre,  and a lot of "european" exoticism.


Sample plots of their albums (taken from their fan site, above)


Roman is the 5th Story CD of Sound Horizon released on November 22, 2006. A series of concerts soon followed. In year 2008, a manga based on the album was created with 2 volumes. The album was influenced with French language, making the songs speak a few Frenchwords. The whole story was based from a French custom, and it follows the story of Hiver Laurant, a child who died premature. He gathers Roman together with his two dolls, Violette and Hortense to know the mystery under Hiver's life in the real world. Roman is a French word for 'story", making the flow of how the stories in the album sung and told legitiamtely.


Any word that Sound Horizon recognizes denshouka gekidan as an influence? denshouka gekidan was around before, it seems.

Any word of any sound horizon influences, in comics, theatre, music, or costume design?

and how did they get the money to put on such elaborate shows?

how do they see themselves relative to western rock opera bands like tommy or anotherbrick in the wall, or  stalin claus superstar? or things like that?





split memory man

CITY . . :
ERA . . . : 2003 ??
SOUND . . :  glam rock
CLIQUE . . . :
STYLE . . . : akihabara, visual kei
ALBUM TO GET . . . :
THEATRICAL POINTS . . . : costumes, backstories of each character

WEB . . . : no.

Glam rock with an "outer space" theme and  some sort of  sci-fi plot that I couldn't understand when I saw them. THey were totally fun though!



 Planet gold 2008

CITY . . :
ERA . . . : the fuuuuuuuture, 2008???
SOUND . . : anime theme song
CLIQUE . . . :
STYLE . . . : akihabara / theatrical
ALBUM TO GET . . . :

WEB . . . :


Sort of the same deal as SOUND HORIZON, but much more low-budget, inept, Vegas-y, and intentionally campy. Here's what I said when I first saw them:

Their stage show was so ill-advised. They did one song, then spent like 15 minutes explaining about their superpowers and how they had like 18 strength or what their armor class was, and by the time they got around to winding up their elaborate back-story, it was time for the show to be over. I think they got half way through their second song.

It was like kabuki anime in vegas. The green lady was named like "Zebera Green Sex", and the blue lady was something like "Sex Zero Super Zebra". I think the red guy was just "Sex."

Apparently they came from some kind of zebra planet to teach humans more advanced fucking techniques.

Not pictured, the holes in the ass-cheeks of the red guy’s superhero uniform.

All their songs were karaoke-style, and the music was fake anime-theme-song-y. It was a glorious mix of bombast and ineptitude.

I should point out , in their defense, it was intentionally campy. Volitional camp, if you will. At one point they dragged a *volunteer* from the audience and inducted her into their fan club with the following initiation — the dude bent over her and emptied a small tin of semen-looking syrup into her mouth and made her chant "I AM FULL OF ZEBRA SPACE SEX SUPER! I AM FULL OF IT!"




MEANING : : cyan yellow magenta black ???
CITY . . :
ERA . . . :
SOUND . . : 8-bit electronica
CLIQUE . . . :
STYLE . . . : akihabara / theatrical
ALBUM TO GET . . . :
THEATRICAL POINTS . . . : see below!

WEB . . . :  here


These guys have a novel interpretation of nerd-rock:  they are really into '80s 8-bit (low resolution) video games. They  do all their songs with old-school, 8-bit synths, of course. But what sets them apart from the other '8-bit music' nerds is this: they do the whole show with a video projection. The video  is 8-bit versions of themselves as video-game characters, playing these imaginary famicom games that the songs are about. Is it a music video? Or a video game in progress? Are the songs about the game or is the game about the songs?   It's all very conceptual but too cute to be really pretentious.  The singer sings about jumping over a car, and lo! The video-game-character-version-of-the-singer jumps over an 8-bit car! The band and their 8-bit analogs do the same dance moves, they're dancing with each other!





again, like with the burlesque section (#8), this is really incomplete. Anyone who has any more ideas for bands, please leave a comment! Thanks!

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