Tokyo Damage Report

ANOTHER LACUNA IN THE DISCOURSE: MODERN TIMES


 
Modern times brought us a lot of good shit , including: jazz, rock, rap, movies with rad special effects, Minesweeperseparation of church and state, Nina Hagen , the Simpsons, medicine besides leeches, feminism and civil rights, heavy metal, and comic books.
 
But there are a lot of bad things about it: pollution, atomic bombs, materialism that tells you “you are what you buy,” the idea that everything goes back to normal after a 30 minute episode, shallowness, the homogenization of local cultures, a mentality that everything is a plastic throw-away, the idea that training hard and spending years to achieve a goal is dumb (you should just buy the goal now and charge it to your card! Anything you can’t buy with a click is worthless!!!!), that Ronald MacDonald is more well-known than Jesus or Mohammed, the commodification of every single thing (turning everything into a product, the market is the only valid way of measuring worth), the fact that no one knows who the people in their community are, but we know details of celebrities’ sex lives or that Emma Stone has a wrinkle, the fact that we pay millions to guys that throw a ball or sing a shitty tune, but pay no attention and give no support to hometown heroes who help the homeless or volunteer at the old folks’ home. Oh, and 12 year old girls dressing like hookers and 10 year old boys spending all day killing things on the tv.
 
And underlying all these: that people under 90 years old can't even conceive of things being any other way. The older, more community-oriented or spiritual, non-market forms of thinking have been erased more effectively than the word for "freedom" was from the newspeak society of 1984. People don't even know what they are missing, they just feel fragmented inside and try to fill the void with plastic crap and internet porn.
 
That  laundry list of complaints is nothing new. Here is what is new:
 
The above critique of Modern Culture is actually shared by hippies and radical left people, AND radical right people ALL OVER THE WORLD (even racists and crazy Japanese nationalists = “Our young people are losing the traditional ways and all they are getting in return is Macdonalds and heart disease!”), and  what’s more, this critique is also shared by muslims (who are hated by both the left AND right) . . . .
 
 .. . and yet. . .
 
 There is NO ONE who is even trying to unify these groups to make a  counter-attack on Modern Times. There is NO ONE who is even interested in brinigng together the left, right, and muslims on this issue that they all totally agree on.
 
WTF man.
4 comments

ANOTHER LACUNA IN THE DISCOURSE: GLOBALIZATION


 
It’s impossible to have a good discussion of globalization for two dumb avoidable reasons and one very good reason.
 
The two dumb reasons misconceptions which are shared by both the left and the right, which guarantees that no one has an incentive to challenge them.
 
Misconception one: globalization is one thing. The fact is, the word “globalization” is so broad it encompasses like 100 different phenomena, some good and some bad. It’s not a take-it-or-leave-it proposition! We should be able to break it into easy-to-digest pieces and then debate them individually on their merits. I like this bit but not that bit. (the same problem applies to political parties in general: if you’re anti-abortion you have to be anti-envrionmental-regulation and pro-handgun. Huh?!?!?)
 
And yet, I have yet to see ONE fucking spreadsheet that analyzes globalization this way: tallies all the good shit on one side and all the bad shit on the other side.
 
Misconception two: globalization is something you can be for or against. It’s fucking not. Asshats like Thomas Friedman aren’t in favor of globalization. They’re in favor of one particular dickhole WAY of doing it. Which they present as the only way, saying things like, “Globalization is a trend that has been steadily building for 1,000 years so you can’t fight it, it’s a force of nature.” Bullshit, Einstein. Increasing trade and exchange of information between distant lands has been steadily increasing, yes. But! Things like the IMF, World Bank, neo-liberal economics, and  the network of Shadow Banks have only been in place for 50 years. So fuck you!!!
 
And protestors who say they are against globalization, aren’t in fact against it. They are against the particular way in which it’s being done these days. In fact a lot of third world countries (the ones that the western protestors are trying to “save”) really WANT globalization, but they just want the contracts and treaties to be written more fairly.   The fact is there are hundreds of different possible ways to do it, but the way the issue is framed prevents people from even beginning to think about that.
 
Moving on to the good but unavoidable reason it’s impossible to have a productive discussion about globalization:
 
As you start breaking it down into 100 bite-sized aspects, you at some point will find that you are now talking about the even more nebulous phenomenon of Modern Times In General.  Which is a concept so vague, so all-encompassing, it’s like asking “what is the meaning of life?” or “what is art?” . . . .in other words a real useless time-waster! There’s no real border between Globalization and modernity. Or whenever I start talking about it, I wind up complaining about neo-liberal economics instead.  It’s not even a venn diagram . . . it’s more like a fucking casserole where everything got melted together.
 
 It’s like trying to look directly at air!
 
 
POSTSCRIPT:
 
If I had to break globalization into bits and then arrange them on a scorecard, it would look like this:
 
Bad:
 
 
Super-national treaty organizations that allow unelected bureaucrats (appointed by big business) to overturn the member nations’ own labor or environmental laws without the public voting for it or, in most cases, even knowing that their own sovigreinity has been usurped. “Yeah, that Chinese beef you bought was genetically mutated, irradiated, hormone-fed, full of feces, and slaughtered by slave labor, but we’re not allowed to put a sticker on it explaining any of that, since that would be A VIOLATION OF THE TREATY and an INFRINGEMENT OF FAIR TRADE.” Informed consumer choices are so anti-free-market!
 
A “race to the bottom” where every country has to lower wages, lower corporate taxes, lower environmental and work safety rules in order to keep jobs.
 
Now people can move a billion dollars from Switzerland to the cayman islands and then to dubai with the click of a button in one second. This makes it easier for local warlords, dictators, terrorists, mafias, and large “respectable” corporations to avoid regulations and launder money. It also makes it easier for financial wall street types to destroy the economies of countries who don’t play ball: just a click of a button and all the capital goes somewhere else.
 
By assembling their goods in 5  foreign countries (as opposed to their home country), multinationals can cheat tax by using a technique called transfer mispricing. This hurts the third world especially, since that is where most of the raw material and labor is. Basically the corp. tells Bangladesh or Belize or whoever, “Yeah, you supplied the raw material and the non-union factory to assemble it. . . but wouldn’t you know it. . . that factory actually lost money! Because we sold the cars for 3 pesos apiece (to our OTHER subsidiary in the Bahamas. (Who then sold the cars in America for  $40,000 each)). So we don’t owe you any tax. Plus actually our corporate headquarters is in the Cayman Islands, so we only pay tax to the Caymans. The Cayman government charges us $5 a year. And that is totally legal! So, smell you later, Jose!”
 
Instead of torturing dissidents at home, America can set up torture rendition camps all over the globe! Where suspected “enemy combatants” can be tortured by 24 hours a day loops of It’s A Small World After All.
 
Good:
 
easy for me to visit America, cheap underwerar at walmart, big Macs taste the same in Uruguay!
 
The thing is, I know this list is only about 10% complete, because I’m not an economist, I’m a jerkoff  metalhead with some free time. So why don’t actual economists make a real list? Why is it up to me?!??
 
So I’m asking you people reading this: have you seen any lists of the good and bad aspects of globalization?
 
And, can anyone do a venn diagram that untangles globalism, modern times, and neoliberal economics?
 
1 comment

american school reform: a real heartbreaker

This is not a “how to reform schools” rant. That is another web page of mine. This is more like WHY IS IT SO EFFING HARD TO EVEN TALK ABOUT REFORM IN THIS FUCKING COUNTRY.
 
All discussions of reform seem to get hung up on 2 issues, both defined by the American right: unions and religion in schools.
 
These polarizing issues are enough to stall any meaningful discussion, so the other 98 aspects of this very difficult problem never get talked about!
 
My parents are teachers. And not just any teachers: my Dad taught at a institutional foster-home for kids who had basically been thrown out by their parents. I really respect him for that, since it would have been much easier for him to teach public school kids without so many issues.
 
And yet at the same time some of the people I most want to get revenge on are also teachers. Still. Right-wingers complain that teachers get paid too much, and yet support wars and private insurance companies. But just because right-wingers are insane doesn’t mean they are wrong. Wait, yes it does. Because the problem isn’t that certain teachers need a pay-cut, the problem is certain teachers need to be fired. Because they are assholes.
 
(ALSO:  why all the repubs concentrating on TEACHERS’ salaries? We should concentrate on firing all the extra administrators. Who knows what the fuck those people even do all day! That’s the way to save money: either fire the pencil-pushers or reform the education bureaucracy so that there is not a NEED for 1,000 forms to be filled out in the first place)
 
But unions can’t say “OK we’ll allow you to sack the burn-outs, the bullies, and the incompetents, in exchange for more wages for good teachers.” They can’t say this because there is no way to measure who is a good teacher.
 
That’s the central problem. And this sets teachers totally apart from other government bureaucrats, who are supposed to be interchangeable parts. As long as the dude from DMV knows the manual and all the rules, he is a good employee. But teaching is not like that! There is no manual for motivating students to have self-worth and aspire to go far in life!
 

 
How to separate good teachers from bad?
 
You can’t use standardized tests because, as the last 10 years of No Child Left Behind has shown, a) teachers will just help the kids cheat, b) they will force problem kids to drop out or put them in jail , because they drag down the average class test score, c) the teachers just “teach to the test” instead of teaching the non-quantafiable life lessons which , let’s face it, are what all of us remember about our favorite teachers.
 
 
How about popularity with students? All really good teachers are popular, but some of the most burn-out teachers are also popular, because they let you fuck around in class and give everyone a B.
 
Should we let the administrators and principals decide? Hell no! since the life-changing teachers almost universally stir up shit and are hated by the school administrators, who will use any bureaucratic tool to get rid of them?
 
How about we let the parents decide. Are you nuts? The bible-thumpers would flip out and within a week there would be no science or literature teachers left in the country.
 
 
At the unspoken center of the debate: what makes a teacher really life-changing and inspiring for students is NOT RANKABLE OR QUANTAFIABLE.
 
 

FUCKING SPUTNIK
 

 The race to space! (aka the race to have LRBMs). Back in the ‘50s, when Russia launched sputnik (demonstrating it had the technology to lob a fucking nuke missile at us from across the ocean), science and smarts became an immediate matter of national survival. It’s difficult to imagine, but  it used to be the most right-wing, General Jack D. Ripper type Crusty anti-commies that were pushing the HARDEST for more education.  Smart kids were seen as vital for national defense. WWII vets got the GI bill to repay them for being good warriors. If a modern right-winger went back in time to the ‘50s and started talking about reducing teacher salaries and sending all the kids off to private religious schools to learn about Jesus, they would be laughed out of the fucking Republican party, if not called a Commie agent!

 
 

WHY DOESN'T OUR TAX MONEY BUY RESULTS??
 
Liberals like to point out that “we spend more on each prisoner than each student.” But the fact is: USA still spends more on education per-pupil than most industrialized countries. The problem is, we aren’t getting good results for the dough. So why the fuck is that????
 
Throwing more money at a problem without finding out who is wasting the existing money is just gonna guarantee that the culprits will simply have more money to steal!
 
you can’t teach poor kids who are mostly worried about having to quit school to get money, or if their parents are sick and the insurance isn’t covering it, and they have to take care of their parents. Or if they ‘re mostly worried about doing all the household grown-up stuff their parents don’t have time to do because the parents are working 2 jobs each. You can’t teach kids who are mostly worried about gang violence, or their family being in jail.  Or if the parents are on drugs and they have to deal with that. They have other shit on their minds. But because of our separation of bureaucracies, the school system doesn’t have the power to fix poverty. And the social welfare bureaucrat says, “It’s not our problem if poor kids can’t learn, it’s the schools’ problem.”  
 
In other words: When you try to fix schools, you quickly run into half-a-dozen systemic problems that you have no power to fix: poverty, the penal system, the drug-treatment system, the  health-care system, religion,  labor law, and so on. And then when the kids don’t learn because the welfare system, penal, health-care, labor, and drug-treatment systems don’t work and the kids can’t concentrate on schoolwork, who gets blamed? The school systems! Better cut their budget, since they are crappy teachers!!!!
 
 
And when I say poor neighborhoods, I don’t mean Compton or Detroit. for every Compton or Detroit there are like a dozen white towns in the middle of nowhere, where there is nothing to do and all the jobs left because factories move to china, and so the parents re unemployed hillbillies strung out on meth.
 
But on the other hand, a lot of kids are assholes, too. They need to go to that special school where they will be the bullied, not the bullies. Talking about juvie. Later for all that “he is just misunderstood” crap. Remember that rolling stone article about the Michelle Bachmann school where the gay kids kept suiciding one after the other? It didn’t even mention penalties for the bullies. Not even to argue against the idea. Just not even on the fucking table. Can you believe that shit?
 

 

SCHOOL REFORM WITHOUT CURRICULUM REFORM?!?

 
Also: even when someone tries to reform schools, like michelle rhee, there is a lot of controversy. She’s great! She’s a fraud!  The righties scream “But more kids are graduating, barely!” and the lefties scream, “But she’s firing teachers!”
 
But even given all the media time debating it and all the public, grass-roots protests, NOT ONE MENTION ON EITHER SIDE of the actual CURRICULUM!! No one on either side cares what THE KIDS ARE ACTUALLY SPENDING ALL DAY LEARNING UNDER MS. RHEE.
 
And yet that subject is not even up for discussion in the media. It’s like reporters and pundits were never kids themselves, who never had to sit for 5 hours a week memorizing the exports of Chad or the life cycle of the common fern. Fucking adults, man.
 
 
 
“YAYYY!! OUR KIDS ARE GRADUATING AT A SLIGHTLY HIGHER RATE!!! THEY ARE JUST BARELY SMART ENOUGH TO PASS THE GRADUATION TEST WITHOUT BEING SHOT DEAD IN CLASS!! USA #1!” 
 
What the fuck. Is that where we are at, as a country?
That is just sad. It doesn’t matter if you are a indie, repub or dem,. . .that should be saddening.
 
Is our shit that small-time now? Cmon. Let’s talk about curriculum. Parents should ask themselves (regardless of politics) ARE MY KIDS LEARNING THE SAME RANDOM OUT OF CONTEXT FACTOIDS THAT I PROMPTLY FORGOT AS SOON AS I GRADUATED, OR ARE THEY LEARNING THE SHIT ABOUT LIFE THAT I JUST LEARNED AT 30 AND WISHED I HAD LEARNED SOONER?
 
Who wouldn’t want that for their kids?????
 
 
Fucking weird as hell . .. unless you remember exactly how much work it is being a parent!
 
Every parent, whether repub, dem, or indie, knows damn well that 90% of the shit they were forced to learn had no practical application and they forgot it as soon as they graduated. You’d think that being loving parents , preventing their own kids from undergoing these 10,000s of wasted hours would be a huge priority! And yet by the time people get older and busy and spend 5 years changing diapers, they are so worn down! By the time their kids are old enough to go to school, the parents say JUST TAKE THEM OFF MY HANDS FOR 8 HOURS A DAY, I COULD GIVE A FUCK WHAT YOU TEACH THEM. JUST LET ME HAVE SOME QUIET TIME.
 
And that’s sad.
 

 
TO SUM UP
 
 Repubs are like FIRE all the teachers!  Public schools are government socialism! Everything kids need to know they can learn from goldman sachs and jerry fallwell!!
 
Dems are like union power! Never fire any teachers!
 
And yet, ALL the adults had that one teacher: that taught much more about life than what their official state-mandated course was. That opened their eyes to new ways of thinking. All the adults had that one teacher that gave them more self esteem that taught them: you are capable of so much more than what your environment expects you to be. You have so many unique qualities that can be a boon to you an those around you. And ALL the adults had like 5 or 6 teachers that were burn outs bullies or just plain didn’t know what the fuck they were talking about, teachers that deserved the sack. 
 
I’m pretty sure if a person on one political side talked in detail about the teachers who changed their life for the better, the people on the other side would be like, “That teacher sounds great. We can agree that the system needs more people like that.”
 
 And if a person on the other political side talked about a teacher who was a dick or a waste-case, I’m sure their political opponents would remember the asshole teachers from their OWN youth and say, “Hey I agree with you too! That teacher was a clown! We need less teachers like that in the system!” And then we could fucking get down to business. 
 
And yet adults grow up and pretend everything is black-and-white, and use crappy schools to make political points about unions or privatization, rather than trying to help the kids. 
 
And then we wonder why kids hate adults.
6 comments

probably gone until april

working on a big musical project.

10 comments

comic market 2009 RONBUN ROUNDUP

let's start this off modestly:

THE WATCHES ON MY ARM

 

This is a page-by-page review of all the watches dude owns. Not like the best watches. Just ones he owns.  The dude is defiantly analog:  writing about wind-up watches in a zine format.


POSTAL GUIDE VOL. 7

I didn't post any scans of the inside, because this is basically a guide to filling out post-office forms. Written not by the post office, but a post office customer/obsessive maniac.

I asked him why HE was doing it (instead of the post office itself) and he just looked at me, as if this should be self-evident.

Also: just like with the watch zine, there is something defiantly old-school about this. . . considering the USA post office is now considered obsolete and about to shut down!


 

THE ILLUSTRATED GUIDE TO TIC-TACS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

(at the bottom it adds: A MEMBER OF THE  "TABLET FIELD GUIDE CREATORS" ASSOCIATION) which should give you some idea.

a

 

The scan shows tic-tacs of latin america and africa.

Each box is analyzed for the following criteria:

local maker

flavor

color

country of mexico

date bought

type of label (adhesive, etc.) (IS there even more than one type of label?!?!)

Comment:
 "There's more than I thought around here! I suppose South America wants some too!"

 

a

 

 


 

ACADEMIC JOURNAL #23

 

 

This zine is thick- almost a pound! And consists mostly of reviews of the most eccentric or absurd books (fiction and non-) from around the world. Like a freak-show of books.

For example, here are some article titles:

"katakana foreign words I learned from anime"

"the author of this book is spiritually deluded!!"
"a book about animals trained to fight wars"

"I want to explain to fictional characters what their nuroses are"

"funny new subculture words  in Japanese Wikipedia"

"a book which is a fictional interview with barrack obama from america"

"a new manga which is entirely about anti-korean sentiments"

 

But the main article in this book is not about literature at all. The main article is an analysis of the physics and math involved in making 3d-animated boobs bounce realistically.

 

 

a

a

 


S=?-2

 

This is the creation of a gentleman who is 1) obssessed with Eames furniture, and 2) interested to see what each Eames chair would look like as a moe girl.

The term for "anthropomorphism" in Japanese is 擬人化 (gijinka).

 


BLUE OCEAN SOMETHING SOMETHING

 

 

The same idea as the previous 'zine, but substitute "deep-sea life-forms" for "eames furniture."

Is this a great country or what?!?!?

a


 

AN ILLUSTRATED GUIDE TO SURGERY AND THERAPY OF THE HEISEI (the current era) ERA

 

Here , a cartoon panda teaches you how to do surgery. Just like the Post Office book, this is not written by any official institution.

Below: the panda is dressed like Michael Jackson while teaching you different suture knots.

below: a rabbit helps the panda put on his/her surgical scrubs.


A GUIDE TO SEPARATING YOUR GARBAGE INTO RECYLABLE AND NON-RECYCLABLE, FOR OTAKU, MANGA, AND EROTIC PEOPLE.

 

 

A guide for specifially otaku items: your PC, your porno magazines, and (in a nice touch) your old comic market merchandise!

But the best part is this:

. . . how to break down your old pocket pussy to recycle it.

Also: the zine is printed on news-print. Kudos.
 

 


 

Another "ranking" zine, but this one is more tongue-in-cheek. The "categories" are different for each pen. For instance:

 

GUNDAM-NESS: *****

PROBABILITY THAT THE DESIGNER IS A FAN OF GANDAM W: *****

PROBABLITY THAT HE'S A HERO FAN: *****

THAT HE'S WORRIED ABOUT GANDAM 00: *****

FUNNY-NESS:******

the rest of the text:

You know how when a comedian you like debuts a new joke that you find un-funny, but you instantly adapt to it because you like the comedian?

This pen is not like that.

This pen combines the instant-transformation beloved by gundam fans with principles of ergonomics, and. . . .

Oh, forget it.

I'm sure there are lots and lots of reasons why it looks the way it does, but the fact is. . .

IT IS UNCOMFORTABLE TO USE!!!

I suppose that pens, like everything else which evolves, must have some false-starts in their evolution!

 


MOKONIKA YONJIJUKUGO

Mokonika's four-kanji expressions

 

 

 

 

This book is a really nice idea: they  take four-kanji idioms (yonjijukugo) and not only personify them as cute girls, but they do a little manga that shows the girl doing the thing.

The opposite page has her statistics as if she's a game character. Also the book's cover is designed to look like a elementary school-kid's kanji workbook.
 

NAME: ACCOU ZOUGON

SPECIAL ABILITY: every time she opens her mouth, bad things come out.

PERSONALITY: For her own benefit, or to shame others, she delights in putting on a magnificent display of abuse and scorn. If you see someone talking irresponsibly, making sure they aren't caught by the target, backstabbing, or spreading malice without ever making a mistake, you know it's her!  However, if confronted, she gives up more easily than a regular person.

MEMBERS OF SAME CATEGORY: akkoubari, zannboubari, barizougon (none of these are in my dictionary, sorry.)

 

 

Right page:

PANEL 1:

STICK FIGURE GIRL: Thanks so much for helping me!

AKKOU ZOUGON: (taking off her mask) Don't worry about it. By the way. . .

PANEL2:

AKKOU ZOUGON: Is it true that your older brother is unemployed? That he's a hikikomori?

PANEL 3:

AKKOU ZOUGON: Everybody's saying it so I just happened to overhear. They say he's otaku, but to the extent that he stopped coming to school altogether? I was just wondering because everybody's talking about it

PANEL 4:

STICK FIGURE GIRL: (runs off crying)

PANEL 5:

GLASSES GIRL: You're enjoying yourself, aren't you? Even you shouldn't take things too far, Accou Zougon

PANEL 6:

 

GLASSES GIRL:  That girl's brother got hurt – he's been in the hospital. And of course he's unemployed – he's still in school, like us!

PANEL 7:

AKKOU ZOUGON: FUCK YOU, I HATE YOU!!!!!

PANEL 8:

NARRARATOR: (translation of above statement: you're so cool, i wish i could be more like you!)


H25

 

 

A "lifestyle magazine" for people who enjoy the ona-ho (short for onna-hole, which means "woman hole" which means "pocket pussy")

What makes this zine unique is that every issue has back cover which is a parody of a real lifestyle magazine: in this case, MEN'S NO-NO.

Below:  weekly sales rankings of the top 5 brands:

text on the cover reads:

ona-ho will save the world!

ona-ho and lotion!

limited edition and special collaboration ona-ho festival! wheeee!!

the lucky vibrator that calls the god of death!

i will become the unrivalled king of winter ona-hos!!!!!

 

also in the issue:

How to make a glove out of fried bean paste so when you jack off it feels like someone else doing it.

masturbation-related chinese zodiac forcasts

final page just says "this space for rent"

 


 

 

 

a

Just that! it only works if you already have the english transcript but can't find the slang in your J-E dictionary.


 

DAILY LIFE WITH YOUR PROSTHETIC LEG

 

 

 

The main article in this one is , how to change the batteries in your prosthesis. I didn't even know they HAD batteries.


 

DO YOU LIKE ROMANCE???

The lovely but absurd world of Harlequin Romances

This is yet ANOTHER review zine, reviewing only japanese translations of Harlequins! It comes complete with its own 3 ranking categories:

ROMANTICNESS

REDICULOUSNESS

STORY QUALITY

 

The standout review, which the zine seller helpfully pointed out to me is this:

a review of NIGHT OF MADAM BUTTERFLY – a novel about a western woman who goes to Japan and gets laid.

(romanticness 3, rediculousness 5, story 3)

 

the title of this section is:

GEISHA COSPLAY AND SUPER-EXPENSIVE BONSAI GIFTS ARE THE WAY TO A MAN'S HEART?

 

It goes on to print an extract from the book, which takes place at a bath-house, where the Japanese man says to the foreign lady:

"When in Japan, you should forget your western attitudes about nudity.  Here, mixed bath-houses are common. We're not embarrassed of our bodies. Neither should you be! Perhaps the fat or aged are another matter, but you've got a nice style there, so you shouldn't be shy about it."

The zine author then goes on to make fun of the book for saying the heroine bought her man a 370-year-old bonsai: "No one would be able to afford such a thing, and even if it did exist, it would be listed as 'a national treasure' and not for sale! Clearly the heroine got decieved by the bonsai seller."

the final verdict?

"This book thoughtlessly gets the details of our culture all wrong.  Perhaps only a foreigner can fully enjoy the "exotic Japan" atmosphere of it. "

 


CONVENIENCE CAFE AU-LAIT REVIEW

 

 

 

 

Just like all the other "ranking" zines. Honestly there are hundreds more of these things. I include this one because they went the extra mile and included a diagram which familiarizes the reader with how to read their coffee-ranking diagrams:

 

 

COFFEE AMOUNT:

MILK AMOUNT:

SWEETNESS:

MAKER, PRICE, QUANTITY, CALORIES

COMMENTS


THE HISTORICAL BOYS LOVE MANGA OF JAPAN

 

 

This book is amazing!  The guy gets these real, historical gay pornos from back in samurai times, and "translates" them from old-timey Japanese to modern Japanese. He says that, although we would today call the pornos "fiction", or "manga",  they are actually closer to journalism – such distinctions were not made back in those days.

In the passage below, well, you figure it out.

 

 


As a bonus, here are some indies gag comics I've picked up over the years.

 

a

a

a

that's right: SUPER-DEFORMED HITLER!!!!

 

 


. . . AND HERE ARE SOME RANDOM UH BL ("boys'-love") MANGA:

 

a

a

a

a

this is the only ultra-man sex joujinshi i could find. I must have gone to 2 or 3 comic conventions looking for this kind of godzilla-fucking-ultraman's-ass stuff, and the guys at the tables stocked with underage rape-porn would be offended , like really indignant , that i would even ASK them such a thing: SHIRANAI!!!

 

I don't know what is so offensive about it. I guess comics should only be used for porn, never just for humor? But finally just by chance i found this one, which is kind of nice.

 

 

 

a

8 comments

also!

kanjidamage (the How To Learn Kanji With Yo Mama Jokes site I do on the side) now has a paypal button.  Believe it or not, people were asking for one. It took around 6 months but I finally got around to it. TDR is never going to have ads or paypal or anything.

 

1 comment

comic market summer 2011 RONBUN ROUNDUP

Tokyo Big Sight's bi-yearly comic markets are world-famous for nerd manga. But what if I told you there was a whole separate section, a hidden corner of zines? Zines which were totally otaku but not about manga or anime at all? I'm talking about the motherlode of old-school Japanese overly-specific hobbyism.

For those of you wanting to check it out, it's called the RONBUN section (論文 meaning 'essay').

 


 

 

"MYSTERIOUS TACTICS! YOKAI PICTURE BOOK! VOLUME. . . ONE?"

Yokai are traditional spirits, folk monsters, and fairies. In this book, some guys take pictures of themselves impersonating famous traditional illustrations of yokai, using everyday household items as props.


"THE CURRY MUSEUM  (WHICH EXISTS IN MY VERY OWN HOUSE!)"

This is a very common type of zine at this event: home-made encyclopedias of foods, all done like a Dungeons and Dragons book or a video game , where each "character" is broken down into attributes, and each attribute  is assigned a number.

 

CURRY MUSEUM  ranks curries on the following attributes:

category of curry, spiciness, amount, calories, and "degree to which I'd recomend it."

Sample review (from the hello kitty curry):

It's a "bon curry" for kids, with Kitty printed on the cover.  There is more corn than beef!  But even so, the taste is basically "bon" style.  But at 120 grams, the amount is not even enough for kids!

degree-that-I'd-recomend-it: one out of five.


below:

Are you lewd?

THE BOOK ABOUT THE ADULT GOODS WHICH YOU KNOW SO WELL

by "the hallucination corporation HDS".

This has small articles about how to use various buttplugs, vibrators, etc. And surveys of people re: how often do you use "adult goods"?

 


 

"chasing the Fourier transformations"

Note the cat-like "emoji" mascot: this is what a Fourier transformation looks like to 2-channel guys.

This book was at the same table as a political rant called "consumers are BAKA!!"

I got both.

 


WAKU WORK MAGAZINE!

(the title is a pun based on how the English word "work" sounds like the sound-effect "waku waku" , which means to be excited about something)

"stories from workers' real experiences on the job. Volume 3: convenience stores."

This is a sort of "information manga" – a textbook on how to be a better clerk, in manga form.  The Japanese tendency to make textbooks or manuals in manga form is not new or shocking at this point. But. . . a manual written by workers, for workers? You'd think that anonymous workers publishing DIY manga would make the manga be an expose of how crappy the job is, but you'd be wrong again. Here are porly-paid 7-11 staff, taking their free time to – for basically free- write motivational manuals for other convinience store clerks. wtf japan.

 

 

Left page (21)

 

Petty crime counter-measures!

panel one: These are small crimes, so you can handle them yourself.

If there is a sale on anything at all, you should yell "Such-and-such percent off of this-and-that" throughout the store in a loud, cheerful voice.

Shoplifters don't like to come to stores where the clerks are so enthusiastic.

Even if there is no sale, you should  simply yell greetings: "Hello! Welcome!"

 

panel 2: suspicious people!

if you see someone glancing nervously at you or glancing covertly around the store, approach them and ask if you can help them find something.

If they are innocent, you will be helping them, but if they are guilty, they will be deterred from shoplifting!

 

panel 3: don't neglect or ignore the merchandise!

even though there are anti-crime cameras, some people are still rude enough to steal, so make sure one person is behind the counter at all times, even if the other person has to go to the back room for more supplies.

Before you go in back, make sure and announce it to your co-worker so they will be on alert!

 

Right page (20)

 

panel one: crime-prevention tips:

every convinience store chain has a contract with some security-guard company. As soon as possible you should hit the "anti-crime buzzer" located behind the counter, and summon the guards.

There are also buttons by the ATM machines, and come chains issue neck-straps to employees with buzzers on them.

Also there are "color balls" you can throw at muggers or shoplifters as they are running away from your store. these balls explode on impact, staining the criminal and making it easy for the police to spot them.

But if the criminal is naked, it will be easy for them to wash off the evidence, won't it?

panel 2:

anti-crime cameras save the images!

male clerk: Fuck! That camera caught me loafing in the back room!

female clerk:  Loafing is also a crime!

In every convenience store, there are many cameras which feed images directly to the associated security company. If there is any problem, the security company saves a copy of the video and can reply it later.

Recently the cameras are such good quality,  the viewer can zoom and enhance parts of the image!


 

TELARC: AN INVESTIGATION OF THE AMERICAN MINOR LABEL

 

Now we're getting to some more serious otaku. . . this guy doesn't just collect everything ever released by a minor classical-music label, he gets his spectrum-machine and measures the SOUNDSPECTRUM of every CD on it, and then makes a music-critic fanzine, not analyzing the music, composition,  or even the performance, but analyzing the sonic spectra!

 

A "sound spectrum" is like a snapshot of a song at one point in time, with pitch on the vertical axis and frequency on the horizontal axis.

a


 

 

18-AND-OVER BOOKS AND GIRLS

an essay about how buying porno is empowering for young women.

sample chapter title: BUYING ADULT GOODS IS PROOF THAT YOU HAVE BECOME AN ADULT!

 


 

TEA REVIEW BOOK! OCHA DOSE 2!

LET'S COOL DOWN IN SUMMER!

a

 

another food-ranking book. The categories rated are : sweetness, sourness, umami (beauty of the flavor), and cost performance.

 

sample review: "The price is reasonable, and the grains are local. this a good point! because it also makes for a good souvinier!"

a


MASS TRANSIT SEATS VOL.1

TRAINS,BOATS, AND PLANES

 

 

I was going to scan the inside, but basically the cover says it all: just page after page of poorly-photocopied color pictures of seats and beds on all manner of mass transit.

From the cramped to the luxurious.


This next one is part of a whole genre – usally all the women are next to each other in the convention hall.

ANECDOTES FROM SEX WORK! THE FUZOKU GUIDE SERIES!

table of contents is printed on the front cover:

sex tv channels, re-prints of questionaires that cat-house customers fill out, silly business cards from brothels with hilarious double-entendre names, and how to become a skillful "companion-san".

Then it adds, "The inside information!!!"

 

sample page below:

 

Upper left is a busniess card from a sex palace named kameman-namedo

This is a play on the name of a traditional japanese sweets shop, called kameyamannendo. (lit. "the hall of the turtle that lives 10,000 years")

but the dirty version is kame-man-name-do  : kame (turtle head =penis) + man (manko= pussy) name (licking) do (hall).

I guess these sorts of puns don't translate any better than, say E3 THE EXTRA TESTICLE.

 

left page, bottom;

an order form for an "image club"  (a type of brothel that has theme rooms and costumes, so that you can choose your own sexual adventure in a way that resembles nothing so much as a reverse game of CLUE) : instead of "murder colonel mustard in the conservatory with the fire poker", the client has chosen "sexually assault the stewardess in the high-school girl's bedroom."

 

right page: an order form for an s/m club:

the client  checks the boxes for

"no previous s/m experience"

for the happy ending? would sir prefer a dry-hump or a blowjob? "blowjob."

He checks the following menu options:

vibrator play, mutual groping,   golden shower and brown shower, and watching-of-masturbation-by-the-mistress.


THE PARASITE THAT EVERYONE LOVES: 2

another "educational manga", teaching people about tapeworms who dress like samurai.


english title: THE OPERATION DENTIST

japanese title (translated): REAL DENTIST GREAT CAMPAIGN

 

 

 

this is . . .get ready . .. DENTAL SCHOOL GAG MANGA. By dental students for dental students. Oddly, it seems to NOT be educational. Or funny.

 

left page, right side:

OVERHEAT NIGHT

"at our dental school alumni reunion one day.  . . ."

panel one:

Japanese lady:  how many patients do you see in a day?

canadian guy (left side, tan skin):  about 8. We spend between one and two hours on each."

Other Japanese: Wow! Japanese dentists can see up to 20 patients a day!

panel two:

canadian:  We can fix an entire tooth in one appointment.

Japanese: WTF?!?!?!?!? IN ONE APPOINTMENT? REALLY???

panel three:

Japanese: REALLY? NO SHIT?!?

(diagram of tooth: root canal, plus tooth filling, plus the cap: three proceedures)

 

panel four:

Japanese:  (still gaining steam) HUH? WHAT? WTF??? IS THAT NORMAL IN CANADA? SERIOUSLY? HUH?

Canadaian (backing away slowly) : uh yes.

 

left page, left side:

WON'T YOU COME PLAY WITH US?

panel one:

Japanese lady: By the way, in Japan it is normal to take three separate appointments just to do the root work

Canadian: EEEHHH?!?!?!?

 

panel two:

Japanese:   we have to wait for the swelling to go down and for the bleeding to stop before proceeding. We worry that it might be painful for the patient to bite.

Canadian:  But. . but. . . if you remove the source of the inflamation to begin with, there won't BE any swelling!

panel three:

Japanese lady: What? but if you do it all at once, won't the gum swell up like so (see the diagram)?

Canadian: I have never heard of any case like that. It's rare enough that there is any pain at all.

panel four:

 

Japanese:  WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

Right page:  KEEP A LID ON IT

top panel: When i started work at a new company they gave me a lot of stuff . . . cellphone, text-messager, laminated badge, books, and so on.

second panel: Anti-crime buzzer? With an instruction manual? Is that even neccessary?!?

 

third panel: "After you receive the buzzer, try it out  right then and there to make sure that the batteries function."

fourth panel: right here? But the hospital boss is having a meeting in the next room!


 

 

THE BIG GUIDE TO TABLETS VOLUME 4

 

 

 

 

This book rates breath-mints. The criteria are:

product name, country, company name, catch copy, remarks, date bought, place bought, is it still on the market?, weight, price, ingredients, calories.

Then: the exact millimeters (to the tenth of a milimeter) height, width, and depth of the individual pills. (sigh).

At the bottom: rankings for mintiness, flavor, and "would I want to buy it again?"

 

Interesting nihongo note : the top-left brand is SHE-HER-HER.

The "sss" sounds of the English  "she" , sounds like "suu-suu", which is the Japanese "sound effect" of mintiness.

The breathy, puffing sounds of "her-her" sounds like the sound of exhaling on someone, which is what you can do if you have good breath.

 


CONVINIENCE STORE CAFE AU-LAIT REVIEW

Here the cafe au-lait are reviewed by:

"coffee-ness"

milk-ness"

 and

"sweet-ness"

 

 


 

Honestly I haven't had the nerve to open this one. But based on the title i would say it is an essay like Malthus or Hobbes.

 

 


 

EROMANGA LOVERS VOL.1

FUNDAMENTAL SPECIALIZED JARGON AND KNOWLEDGE FOR EROTIC MANGA: CREATION, ILLUSTRATION, AND CONCEPTS

 

This is a highbrow one! It's a sort of dictionary of terms – not dirty words but conceptual terms that one might use to write "art criticism" of ero manga. Like before you start writing your ero-manga critical blog, you first need to make some jargon. More than a dictionary, it doesn't just define the words but it explains why the concepts are important to the history of eromanga, why they are uh satisfying in a way that just regular naked pictures are not.

 

Unfortunately most of these terms are not as unique or philosophical as the author seems to think they are – things like POV porn,  analog  vs. digital art styles,  self-aware ero-manga references, "finishing scenes", and clothes becoming transparent due to being soaking wet.


 

and then there's this:名古屋

 


MISSLES FROM THE ASS!

back cover copy: GIRLS' ASSES ARE "ENEMY AIRSPACE."

 

Does anybody have any idea what this is a parody of?

a


RESEARCH OF THE PEOPLES' UNIFORMS

UNIFORMS OF SUN YAT-SEN

 

This is a scholarly, 6-page leaflet describing how Chinese nationalist Sun Yat-Sen designed what would become famous as the "mao uniform" while studying in Japan at the turn of the last century. At the time, China was being colonized by whitey.

 


FASCISTA ARCHIVE

 

they have their own logo!

 

 

 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

p2: a small encyclopedia of fascism

p12: the great experiment named fascism

p15: a small lecture on fascism

p16: my personal opinion re: the uniforms

p18: a general introduction to the Japan Justice Party

p22: the raw material of the third revolution

p28: the black light of fascism which shined on Tokyo

p31: poems about fascism.


NEW BIG FRIENDS' STUDY SERIES,  ZERO FOUNDATION:

INSTANT BONDING GLUE BOOK: EXTREMELY SMALL NOZZLE EDITION!

Nothing but the tiniest nozzles of model glue applicators, for detail gundam work, one assumes.

a


 

 

the first half of this book is about nazi uniforms and serious military history. the second half is basically the most baffling manga ever.

It starts with  Donald Rumsfeld vowing revenge on Adolf Eichmann (it's a common misconception that Rumsfeld is Jewish), and then Rumsfeld transforms into Obama, who summons a sailor-moon version of who now? Hillary.

Just as sailor hillary and obama are ready to fight nazis, a huge amount of Ronald McDonalds all jump in and the americans team up with nazis to fight them. Yes the nazis are using iron crosses as shuriken.

In the end, a dracula-looking Josef Menegle flies in to save the day with his surgical tools.

There is no explanation for this.

 


FUNNY NAMES FOR AGRICULTURAL CHEMICALS, VOLUME 4!

 

a

 

 

 This particular page is a review of a pesticide for rice called JUDGE.

 

name: Judge brand boxed medicine

ingredients: ben furakarubu (5%), purobenazooru (24%)

poison: yes!

form: white powder

 

notes:  Not related to The Disciplinary Committe

Not enough for Level Four Teleportation Ability.

For rice disease

Causes water pollution, so don't let the water drain out of your field into rivers.

Not related to the wild bird die-off in Nagano.

The cartoon at the bottom features the zine's mascot, saying,

"IT'S TIME FOR THE FINAL JUDGEMENT!!!!!!

THIS PRODUCT IS. . . it is. . .uh., er, that is . . .uhhh"

 

Other "funny" agricultural chemical names are:

GANG

KUSA-RANGER (literally grass ranger, but sounds like "stinky ranger")

DYNAMAN

SHOCKER

KIKUEMON

GAIA

HOME RUN KING


THE CHINA-DRESS WAITRESSES!

a " WORLD OF CHINA-DRESSES" SPECIAL EDITION

 

A page-by-page review of restaraunts, omitting any mention of whether the food is good.

This page:

KUN PO, in ikebukuro.

dress shape : one-piece dresses, as well as others

sleeves: mostly mid-upper-arm-length

hemline: various lengths. Waitresses with mini-dresses wear black stockings.

dress slit: many types

They then note that "Besides china-dresses, many other Asian costumes can be seen: Ao Dai, Thai, Malaysia, South Asian costumes, etc."


MITSUME AND YUNBO!

 

This zine is an example of another repeating motif of these zines: anthropomorphism. That is to say, Japanese people tend to look at things and ask themselves, "If this thing were a cute girl, what would she look like?"

In this case, the authors did a book of the equipment being used to clean up the Tohoku region (the region of north-east Japan ravaged by the tsunami and earthquake). In the upper left corner of the cover you can see the personification of one of the claw-machines.


CANNED COFFEE CAFE MOCHA-CHAN VOL.3

 

This is a whole book of illustrations of "what different kinds of canned coffee would look like if they were cute girls." here is Wonda brand coffee:

 


 

Another magazine which does the same thing, but with more details:

Wonda is named Asami, she is 15 yeas old, and she thinks it's a shame to just only use Wonda to help her wake up in the morning.

 


 

 

 

 

below: UCHUU DE KYA-KYA!

LET'S GET WACKY IN SPACE!

 

This is an educational gag-manga about sattelites Ikaros (a space exploration sattelite)  and  Akatsuki (the venus climate orbiter). It is staggeringly unfunny.

 

 

RIGHT SIDE:

AT THE AMUSEMENT PARK

panel one:

IKAROS: let's ride this one (points to spinning cups)

 

panel two:

AKATSUKI: Ikaros really likes rotating things!

IKAROS: 25rpm!

panel three:

AKATSUKI: 25rpm? Isn't that too fast?

IKAROS: Akatsuki  are you scared!

panel four:

IKAROS: But isn't it more scary to be shot in a rocket into outer space?

(gales of laughter)

LEFT SIDE: TRIM YOUR SAILS!

panel one:

(the friends are now in the cup ride)

AKATSUKI: it's spinning at a pretty normal speed!

IKAROS: yes!

 

panel two:

(a third satellite is at the control panel)

THIRD SATELLITE: let's make things more interesting! (increases speed)

panel three:

IKAROS: (turns into hamster) (hamsters like going round in their little exercise wheels)

panel four:

IKAROS: TURN FASTER!

AKATSUKI: I KNEW IT!

 

On second thought, this is pretty funny.


 

10,000 YEN AN HOUR! ACTUAL EXPERIENCES OF A NAGOYA WORKING GIRL,  VOL. 5

 

 

Again, there's a whole row of booths of these type of manga.  4-panel gag cartoons about bad vs. good customers, mostly.


 

 

a model-railroad hobby magazine that is so otaku, there is NO TRAINS in it. Too mainstream, man. This just focuses on the little buildings and people that go in them.

There are articles about guys that replicated specific (fictional) stations from famous anime, and articles about how to use graphic design software to design and print custom tiny decals for the various busses and convinence stores that populate your train set.


 

 

 

This is a zine about how to use various affordable home radiation detection devices to measure fallout from the Fukushima plant.

 

Above, the author checking air levels near the street sign showing the location. The lower picture is him leaving the device out overnight to capture the radiation footprint of overnight rains.


 

THE FIRST-TIMERS' GUIDE TO CROWD CONTROL, SPECIAL EDITION

"NOTHING SCARES ME AFTER THIS" . . .OR DOES IT?

FROM THE PREPARATIONS BEFORE THE EVENT, TO THE DAY AFTER, THE REAL EXPERIENCES OF EVENT STAFF

This is mind-blowingly good: a guide to how to do crowd control AT EVENTS LIKE THE ONE IN WHICH IT IS BEING SOLD.

All these big nerd conventions have hundreds of temp-staff crowd-control kids waving people this way and that way,  organizing queues so that they don't get in the way of other queues, shouting out of megaphones, and making a nuisance of themselves.

Below: an organizational chart showing how a mid-sized event crowd-control staff breaks down:


BACKUP AUDIO TECHNIQUES FOR PRACTICAL USE VOL.3

 

DOES THIS HEADPHONE REALLY HAVE THE BOOMING BASS ADVERTISED?

DOES DE-OXYGENATED COPPER WIRE REALLY IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF SOUND?

LET'S TRY THE FREE HEADPHONES THAT COME WITH THE MP3 PLAYER FOR NOW. . .

THE ADVERTISEMENT THAT PROMISES "SUPER SOND" . . . WITH SUCH ENGRISH, ARE THE CLAIMS CREDIBLE?

WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF SUPER-CHEAP HEADPHONES!  BUT PERHAPS THERE IS A HIDDEN GEM HERE WITH REAL BALLS!!!

This  is a huge book of technical specifications of  under-$10 earbuds and the free earbuds that come with consumer electronics.

That is all that it is. No reviews. Just hard scientific data!

a


ERO MANGA STATISTICS #8

AN ANALYSIS OF ADULT MANGA

THE SECRET STATISTICAL AVERAGES OF THE GIRLS!

WITH YOUR OWN SKILLS, MAKE  A DISTRIBUTED DATABASE TO QUANTIFY YOUR CONCEPT OF CUTENESS!

 

 

This is my favorite of the bunch: simultaneously  serious, rigorously executed, and self-consciously idiotic.

 

 

all the dots are different sex acts. I have no idea what the x and y axes are for. The main oval clusters are "penile penetration acts," "acts where the man does to the woman," and "acts where the woman does to the man."

below, more of same.

what makes this wonderful is that I WOULD BE JUST AS CONFUSED BY A "SERIOUS" STATISTICAL DIAGRAM . . . IN ENGLISH.

 

 

below, the four lines plot the statistical likelihood, per page, of 4 kinds of sex acts in 11 different manga?

the four kinds are (I think) – man on top, woman on top, doggy-style, and anal.

in the middle graph, the four lines indicate different kinds of illegal acts:

sex with virgins, sex with minors, adultery and  .. . . some other illegal act.

The third graph:  the likelyhood of  breast milk, vagina juice, and semen.

 

 

next, a look at the most common behaviors in the beginning part / middle part/ and end part of ero-manga.

 

next, . . .????  Honestly?!?!?! Someone help me out here. . .

 

next, a breakdown of how often the male version of something is shown vs. the female version of that thing.

For instance, at the top, the likelihood that the woman's face is visible is exactly 97.62%.

ALso: sex organs, butts, and underpants. Male underpants are only visible 0.46% – once in 200 manga!

 


 

ERO MANGA STATISTICS

LET'S GO HOME AND DO STATISTICS TOGETHER!

MOST LUXURIOUS STATISTICS BASE!

 

no clue!

a


ERO GAME STATISTICS!

WHO ISN'T EXCITED TO HAVE A HAREM OF HEROINES?!?

 

 

Here 's a whole book of the "decision trees" used in creating choose-your-own-adventure style dating-simulation and sex games.

 

 

 

And a list of heroines' hair color, as it correlates to their likelihood of doing various nasty things.

Middle graph: eye color and same.

Lower graph: um, breast color?!?

heroines' secondary-sex characteristics: body size, breast size, do they have glasses? and so on.

 

6 comments

2011 fall photos

below: brutal concrete "toys" from a park by the Tama river.

 

 

yes, it's a trilobite. My first thought was GOD I LOVE THIS COUNTRY.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

buildings!

 

 

 

 

amazing pedestrian walkway by my local station:

 

 

 

 

 

above: the pagoda facade was a nice touch.

 

back to the Tama river, a bit after the scary animal park is this: MAEDA AUTO – a company that rents exotic vehicles for TV and movie use!

 

Right next to Maeda Auto is a garbage hauling company that doubles as a uyoku (right-wing militia) group. Keeping Japan pure both metaphorically AND literally! The guys in their trash truck were on the left, while their right-wing loudspeaker truck was on the right. it was – i am not joking – playing speeches and patriotic songs as the guys were working.

It was kind of  like a neo-nazi version of Stanford and Son!

 

below:  why did i snap this picture of a typical, if run-down apartment?

the security camera!  I was biking with my Japanese friend and said, "WTF security camera? In this dump? What do they have worth stealing?" and my friend said, "The camera is to prevent people from dumping their trash in the trash bins."

 

Readers: is this a phenomenon in your home countries? 

 

Break in my house, sure, but for God's sake don't dump your trash. Recycling rules around this town are baroque as fuck. Like you can only recycle bottles twice a month. if you miss your deadline, you're stuck with them for 2 weeks. That might not seem like much, but multiply that by all the different types of trash, and multiply THAT by the fact that the vast majority of apartments don't have a dumpster. This means you are expected to keep several weeks of trash in your apartment and only throw it out THE DAY OF.

The building above, although crappy in most respects, has the most coveted of luxuries: a dumpster! Hence the camera.

Lest you think I'm exaggerating, here's another  trash-cam, from a totally different 'hood:

What's funny to me is that the main building is a CUSTOM CAR PARTS STORE. And it DOES NOT have an external cam.

So next time you're trying to explain to your friends about Japan being sort of obsessed with purity and contamination, you now have another example.

 

below: what I hate about summers in Japan:

 

 

cicadas nesting in my beard.

 

 

below: some raunchy warehouses down where Tama river meets the ocean:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And now back to trash!  Here is a forlorn pillow/panda. I don't know what's funnier: that the trash-collectors (perhaps the same uyoku from Nazi Stanford and Son?!?) didn't collect it, or that they attached a note to it, explaining specifically what bureaucratic category panda/pillows fall into.

 

and a photo roundup would never be complete without some language fun. . .

 

below, the absolute shittiest park in Tokyo:

it's your typical dirt-lot that passes for public recreation in "the world's most expensive city." But – check out the natural wonderland right behind the wall!  What sets this dirt-lot apart from every other dirt-lot is that THE WHOLE PURPOSE OF THE PARK IS TO MAKE YOU JEALOUS OF THE REAL PARK BEHIND THE WALL. That walled-off bit of gorgeousness and lush greenery is basically the ONLY thing you can see from the dirt lot.

This represents the pure, distilled, concentrated, raw and uncut  essence of Japanese parks: the public "park" is a vacant lot, while the private "not a park" is full of trees, lawns, probably duckies and bunnies.

 

Pure dick move.

Also: the non-park ALSO has video-cameras, just in case.

I went around it one time on the ole' bicycle, and it seems to NOT be a temple or museum – it looks like some Yakuza headquarters / fort thing.

below: more of Tokyo's "nature":  a bit of the Zenpukujigawa river, which they're not content with concreting the bottom and sides, now they're building over the TOP of it, too. Rode the bike downriver from the construction, and the whole river turns like milky, semen-y white. WTF are they building there?

but it's not all bad:  check out this AWESOME house in Nishi-Shinjuku:

 

 

below: a bus ad for a prep-school course. Normal so far, but . . .

 

Sudden hitler!

 

 

Below: THIS is how a river is SUPPOSED to look:

A while back,  I posted about these small shrines squeezed between modern-style buildings. And I stole the photos from other blogs, only linking to a few of them. I guess that is Tumblr's  whole business model. Anyway here are some more pictures that I actually took this time;

 

 

 

 

8 comments

USA has madd doody on its chin

America! One week! Two universities, two clashes with police!

In this corner: UC Berkeley, where some students were camping out in support of increased taxes for the rich.  The students were peaceful, but 3,000 cops come out of nowhere and kick their ass, drag some to jail, mace everybody.

In that corner: Penn State, where students gathered to protest the firing of a coach who covered up for a child molester for over a decade as he preyed on more and more young boys. The Penn students were violent, and the cops wept quietly in a corner, letting students rage on for hours, before dispersing them with no injuries. . . the cops don't seem to remember if they arrested anyone at all.

The American media reacted swiftly: "Even though most protestors were not violent, the violent few discredited the whole movement with their anarchist ways and disrespect for authority. This movement has no future and lost all popular support. Clearly football nationwide should be banned."

No comments

wtf drones

Wtf drones?

Like some people say they are awesome and others (hippies) say they are immoral (WTF targeting people for death based on statistical algorhythms of “behavior patterns?”), but here’s one thing I haven’t heard either side even say once::

 

“What’s gonna happen when Russia gets drones? When China gets drones? When they start selling them drones to all the little countries around the world which we’re presently droning the shit out of?”

 

I mean, how weird is it that no one is pointing this out. . . even liberal hippies are just taking it for granted that USA is the only one who will ever have drones- our assumptions about American military supremacy so deep we can’t even question it.  

 

But think about it – how long did we have the H-Bomb for, before Russia got it? Or the A-Bomb? How long did the Russians have that shit before China got one? How long did we have PONG before the Japanese invented Nintendo and then nobody bought American video games for 30 years? 

 

Here’s another weird thing: even back in the George W. Bush days when no one really bothered to argue about policy (“If you criticize the COMMANDER IN CHIEF during WARTIME you are a TRAITOR TO MER’CUH!” remember that?  Whatever happened to those people?)

But even in those days, you’d find military guys speaking out occasionally against our new “Torture Is Awesome” policy on the strategic (not moral) grounds that “When, not if, our soliders get taken prisoner in the future, if we torture, then our enemies will be more likely to torture US.”

 

And now in the Obama days, we can’t even muster up that level of elementary “what-if?” for our drone-related arguments.

 

So let me be the one to put that shit out there:

 

What’s gonna happen when Russia gets drones? When China gets drones? When they start selling them drones to all the little countries around the world which we’re presently droning the shit out of?

 

Not saying "never have drones". Just saying, why isn't this kind of basic strategic concern even a little tiny  part of our national debate?

 

Plus, you think Homeland Security is taking away Americans’ rights NOW?? 

When whatever borderline insane “freedom fighters” that we are presently funding to help us fight GWOT inevitably turn into Next Generation Super Wacko Gives No Fuck Al Queda and THEY get drones (that we sold them?!?!?). . . .  what the fuck kind of new Homeland Security rules is the government going to impose to "keep us safe" from THAT shit?   

 

We’re going to be nostalgic for the time we ONLY got our email read and our radioactive naked pictures taken at the airport.

10 comments

anti-nuke rally this sunday tokyo hibiya park

speeches start at noon @ the amphitheater in the park.

 

If I'm reading this flyer correctly, the actual march doesn't start until  around 3:30, and will go from hibiya park past the TEPCO office!

 

Anybody down?

 

also, these links:

 

http://onaironaironair.wordpress.com/2011/08/08/nouvelles-de-tokyo-%E6%9D%B1%E4%BA%AC%E3%81%8B%E3%82%89%E3%81%AE%E7%9F%A5%E3%82%89%E3%81%9B/
 
http://doc.radiationdefense.jp/dojyou_map.pdf
 
http://www.radiationdefense.jp/
 
http://www.radiationdefense.jp/investigation
 

1 comment

conclusion of Nakajima’s JAPANESE ARE HALF FALLEN

CHAPTER FIVE: IS IT POSSIBLE TO LIVE TOGETHER?

A DIFFICULT PROBLEM TO SOLVE

This problem that I’ve been grappling with . .. at last I’ve come to realize how difficult it is to solve! The burden of “insolvability” has been weighing more and more heavily on my shoulders, so the time has come to confront it! I suppose I must quit dreaming of a large-scale reformation of Japanese peoples’ attitudes. I suppose I must quit dreaming of authentic human contact and a society which respects everyone’s sensitivity levels. The administrators of this country are never going to budge from their idea of “rule for the benefit of the majority,” and the administrators of shopping malls are never going to put anything before profits, are they?

The common people are simply going to demand more and more SOUNDS, and there isn’t a way to change the laws or customs. The spiritual corruption has become too deeply embedded in our bodies. Everyone says that it’s all worth it just because we’re developing the economy.

On TV the other day, I saw a new model of refrigerator with built-in tapes that said YOU’RE LEAVING THE DOOR OPEN and PLEASE PUSH THE DOOR HARDER, THANK YOU!   The reason given is that consumers demand such features. After a detailed investigation of the markets, I have to admit that they’re right. . . it’s impossible to hold in check this demand for more and more SOUNDS. Soon they will install new public telephones that greet you with a message of THANK YOU FOR USING ME! PLEASE INSERT YOUR PRE-PAY CARD HERE! Transport trucks no longer simply beep when they back up, now they say I’M BACKING UP! I’M BACKING UP! I’M BACKING UP! I’M BACKING UP! I’M BACKING UP! 

But the most shocking recent experience was one I had in a taxi:  As   I got out, the car said THANK YOU FOR RIDING ME! PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU HAVE NOT LEFT ANY ITEMS BEHIND! In an annoying high-pitched voice. But that was not the big shock. The big shock was: I can’t ride in taxis ever again! Not only that, but this also struck my brain like a lightning bolt: the handful of us “announcement-neurosis-patients” are expected to endure all the SOUNDS . . . but for every noise we train ourselves to forgive, there are RIGHT NOW entire teams of technicians inventing a dozen MORE sounds for the future!

We can’t change anything; we’re powerless, aren’t we? Here is the question I’d like to put forth: who will protect those of us who want tranquility and quiet from the majority who demands noise? Who will defend those of us who still take responsibility for our own actions and want to make up our own minds about things from the majority who wants to escape responsibility and have others decide everything for them? Who will defend our right to speak up, against the majority that doesn’t want to hear our voice? In this final chapter of the book, I will grapple with these themes.

I am certain that my activism on behalf of a self-determining, self-responsible society is justified. As for those among us who are not capable of self-determination/responsibility (the elderly, children, the mentally and physically handicapped), let’s help them on an individual basis, without resorting to just-in-case announcements. Let’s be objective about our own noise levels : we should keep the sounds we are enjoying (be it the loud playing of our children, the barking of our beloved dogs, the rock music that we for some reason enjoy, etc.) at the same level as we’d want our neighbors to keep THEIR sounds.

Instead of framing noise debates as “he’s too sensitive to sound,” we should frame them as: “How would I feel if I had to hear a disagreeable sound at the same volume and frequency as this sound?”

In other words, we should strive to build a society in which the reactions of “this noise is pleasant” and “this noise is offensive” are given equal weight.


THEORY MUST SURRENDER TO FACTS!

But, it’s easy to simply write demands. Making them reality throughout the country, however, is almost impossible! Such wicked thoughts are almost unspeakable for Japanese, to say nothing of having a logical debate. Instead of logic, people respond with comments such as, “You’re right. . . that’s the truth! But in today’s society . . . (*shrugs*)” More sly and tricky people have a different technique. Worse than disagreeing honestly, they pre-empt any serious discussion by pretending to agree, and then dismissing me with a “Yes BUT. . .”

“Yes BUT, in this capitalist society, don’t customers like to be treated to such beautiful words?”

“Yes BUT if we stop the warning announcements and even one person has an accident, I’ll get fired.” 

“Yes BUT if we don’t have any announcements, the people won’t do anything at all.”

And so on and so forth, ad nauseum. It’s like the old saying, “Necessity doesn’t need rules.”  Like immature high-school debaters, if the facts don’t fit their argument, they retreat into abstraction, where nothing can be conclusively proved or disproved. And they stick fiercely to this shoddy tactic.

What I hate more than anything, what burns me like sulphuric acid, is this: at school, work, and in the family, we are told RESPECT DIVERSITY, RESPECT INDIVIDUALITY, TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR ACTS. But it’s all lip-service – almost no one who spouts such clichés has the slightest desire that the kids will actually act on them. The real face of the institutions lies in all the posters that line the walls of the schools, which preach the exact opposite message. Of course no one is allowed to point out the glaring contradiction.

What’s more, the final effect is to turn such sentiments as LET’S ALL TAKE RESPONSIBILITY! LET’S RESPECT DIVERSITY! Into just another of the empty, conformitizing slogans, absorbing them completely into the system!!!

Taken together, all this “education” amounts to an intentional numbing or paralysis of the students’ ability to think critically or make up their own mind about messages. To submerge them into a group mentality, and make them blind to their own likes and dislikes. Systematically, children’s sensitivities to many different things are brought into line. They are trained to check what the group thinks about a phenomenon, rather than using their own senses to examine the reality of the phenomenon directly. Any individual speech patterns are stomped out, leaving only standardized “public speech” devoid of thought or emotion.

But however persuasive my analysis is, the fact remains that we Japanese have survived such education for over a thousand years. It’s like a thousand-year-old wave, so deep and wide that we are simply unable to change it.  “Change” is superficial, like a plastic surgery which changes the outer layer of skin, the body will immediately continue to grow in its natural form, unseen, below the surface.

Even our youth, who seem so strange and untraditional at first, to me they are 99% “classic Japanese.” There are a lot of students with dyed hair under their uniform school caps, a lot of students who make a big show of not paying attention to the teachers. They think they can simply throw out a thousand years of tradition and behavior patterns. But even these “manner-less” students are completely normal.

No different from their Western counterparts, they would  (when disputing a grade , for instance) never argue their case stubbornly for thirty minutes in front of the school’s Review Committee. They would never persistently and cool-headedly use reason and logic to persuade the teachers. If they wanted a better grade, they’d come and beg the teachers with their head bowed, asking “please please please!”

They’re just not that interesting to me.

What I’m really curious about is the words and actions of the adults who criticize these youths! The adults, oddly, all have the exact same complaint, in almost the same exact words:”The youths lack the traditional value of consideration for others. Youth lack this virtue, which is the most essential fundamental Japanese virtue.”

That this point (of all Japanese points) is the attack chosen by the adults just leaves me speechless!! Honestly, it makes me feel like I just landed here from Mars! 

My countrymen have noticed that lately young Japanese have lost a bit of the stench of Japanese-ness. This is a huge incident!  To them, it’s as terrible as if Japan’s sperm count had started dropping off due to abnormal hormones in the food! A national emergency! In this political climate, the growing self-centeredness of the youth enrages the grown-ups’ heads and hearts. And yet, the youth are just as compliant (and oblivious to) their elders, when it comes to the ever-present management slogans, announcements, and signs that pickle them!

I really don’t want to sound like one of these “hysterical critics” when I get worked up. I don’t want to say things like, WHY ARE JAPANESE SO INFANTLIZED?!? WHERE IS OUR SENSE OF SELF-RESPONSIBILITY? IS THIS HOW WE “RESPECT INDIVIDUALITY?” and so on.

What I would like to ask for, though, is that the critical grown-ups phrase their attack in a more prudent, more down-to-earth and straight-forward manner, like so:

“To the extent that it doesn’t harm me, I want to avoid all self-determination. I wish to float and twist around in the sea of management slogans and invasive sign-boards. I want to extinguish individual ways of speaking. Use the most safe, cliché phrases at all times, and try as much as possible to avoid responsibility for my own actions. I admit here that this is the kind of life I want for everyone.”

And then I’d like them to wait patiently while I state my whole case in turn.





IT’S NOT A PROBLEM OF A PUBLIC NATURE

My wise readers might now respond thusly: “Your demands are so prudent, and reasonable!” Yes, but you have to know that even though they would win a rational argument, the people of this society won’t even argue with me: they just dismiss the demands out of hand as being arrogant.

As for the people who design urban spaces and amusement spaces, they don’t listen to people like myself, who constitute a tiny minority. Unlike private spaces, public spaces have to meet the needs of the majority: whether this is back-ground music, endless warnings about trains coming soon, warnings that one is almost to the top of escalator so one had better watch one’s step . . .to the extent that the majority demands these things, they have to be installed.  The designers of public spaces have no room to choose their own vision in this regard.

Even private enterprise can be thought of as “public space” to the extent that it’s a space which people use in their everyday lives: banks, trains, busses, malls, hospitals, and so on.  This is not some abstract notion that I arbitrarily decided upon; it is a reality which is manifest in the everyday conditions of people and places.

Since Narita is the only international airport available to Tokyoites, its “public-space-ness” is very high. To people in any given neighborhood, the closest train station is the one they use daily, making that station have a high “public-space-ness” (even if it’s a private railway line). In many new residential communities, there is only Supermarket A – the next closest supermarket might be a thirty minute journey, making Supermarket A much more “public-space-y” than Supermarket B.

In the same way, banks, restaurants, theaters and pools (to say nothing of beaches) may have “public-space-ness.” However, it is not a question of “Do they have it or not?” but “To what extent do they have it?” To answer that question, one must look at the situation from many different residents’ point of view, and see – in daily life – how much of a need they each have for it.

Of course, I wouldn’t complain about noise if I were to walk into a disco. The same thing with a pachinko parlor. Those kinds of “amusement spaces” have relatively little “public-space-ness”. But amusement parks, beach parks, ski slopes, in short, places where one brings one’s family, tend to have more “public-space-ness”.

Keeping that in mind, I’d like to declare that spaces that have a monopoly on something necessary to everyone’s everyday life TYPE ONE SPACES. Other spaces, where one can easily choose among several of the same type to go to, I designate TYPE TWO SPACES. I will continue this chapter using this system.

However, first I need to stress one point: I don’t think this concept of “public-space-ness” is going to lead to any revolution in Japan’s sound environment. There are some writers and social critics who totally over-rely on the word “public space”, and they use it too abstractly. Frankly, this country simply doesn’t have the concept of public-space as it applies to SOUNDS. But the idea that public spaces exist in some abstract world where they don’t impinge on peoples’ sensitivities is just absurd, a fantasy! Places like shopping districts aren’t seen as public, so we don’t see them as being vulgar; rather, we see them as “vulgarity which conforms to Japanese rules of space.” (In other words, we don’t have any absolute principles or morals about vulgarity, we only judge based on if something meets expectations of what it’s “supposed” to look like. – ed.)

Many social critics, such as Kato Hisatake, say this: Every private shop can blast its loudspeakers onto the public streets. Because we lack the concept of “public vs. private”, and we can’t tell the difference, we find nothing odd about this.  

But that’s simply not the case.

Think of the shopping district; average people demand a noisy sound environment, and that’s why shop-owners point their loudspeakers at the street! The speakers are not an annoyance to anyone. In fact, if people like me had our way and eliminated the speakers, the SILENCE would be an annoyance. The echoing, tinny voices from the loudspeakers make people want to shop! The same people lose their enthusiasm for shopping in the quiet streets of Europe: it would feel too cold and unwelcoming to them!

The SOUNDS are there for the public’s benefit . . that is the nature of “public-space-ness” in Japan. It’s not a colorless, invisible abstraction. It’s a reflection of the vivid and noisy inner lives of Japanese bodies. Perhaps it’s even a reflection of the ideals of our society! But, the same majority would still claim that “calm and natural tranquility” is also a Japanese ideal, even as they seek out the most noisy, vulgar shopping districts.

But here’s the thing: “public-space-ness” is NOT the same as “space used by the majority.” No matter how much the majority demands clamor and din in a given space, the minority who hates clamor and din should not be ignored: after all, they need to use the space just as much as the majority. “Public-space-ness” is an absolute concept, based on how necessary the space is to daily life, not a relative concept based on how big the noise-loving majority of users is. However, teaching society to understand this concept is going to be a long journey!

It’s not as if European society is systematically based on catering to minorities. Building codes (for color, shape, and height) are extraordinarily strict. People who want to give their homes a unique design are almost without exception turned down. The shopping districts are quiet because of strict speaker laws. But of course those laws infuriate the minority of Europeans who wish to be bombarded with loud sounds whilst shopping!

So, if the Japanese intellectuals and social critics really want a society “for the minorities”, then they must logically be wishing for European cities to be awash with noise. European cities are not quiet because they have a fundamentally different or more correct conception of “public space.” Majority rules there, just like here.

STRENGTH OF GREAT NUMBERS

It goes without saying that the elites of society are in charge of public space, but there is one exception to this: Michel Foucault’s concept of “strength of great numbers”. The person who demands a noisy shopping district is nobody special. The person who demands management announcements plastered all over their trains and stations is nobody special. And when these everyday folks join organizations (shop-owners’ associations, police departments, fire departments, tax bureau, and neighborhood associations) they form a sort of WEB of everyday-people-power.  

This WEB transmits to us our sensitivities, trains and forges our sensitivities, checks them, and excludes those who don’t match up. No matter the surface appearance of a public space (rich neighborhood or poor, for instance), the underlying feel and flavor will never change. In other words, the public spaces of today’s society are a reflection of the true desires of average people, not elites. For example, the mall owners aren’t stupid. They’re in business to make money. They only give people what they want.

If everyone were like me and demanded quiet tranquility in the streets, the banks, the parks, and so on, the speakers would be soon gone. There is no way that a handful of elites could force the speakers on the vast majority (which, remember, includes shop-owners’ associations, police, and neighborhood associations – ed.). This is how the “strength of great numbers” works.

The “strength of great numbers” theory also explains why it is so difficult to grapple with or change society: the WEB is leaderless . . .   One cannot appeal to the police to change peoples’ attitudes. One can not appeal to the shop-owners’ associations or the individual store owners. All one can do is pass out questionnaires (“How would you feel if we changed such-and-such . . . ?” to random people.

The real enemy isn’t the people or the elites, it’s a set of traditions and sensitivities (or rather, INsensitivities) that has built up over time. And this enemy has no face, no physical body, no leader, no neck to wring. It’s impossible to do battle with.

It’s as if the whole country, every nook and cranny, was “averaged out” to one number, and “fractional” people like me got “rounded off” in the process!

About ten years ago, the anti-smoking lobby was able to get some “no-smoking zones” established, because they had documents proving that smoke was bad for health. But unfortunately, the SOUNDS haven’t killed any of us “sensitive neurotics.” They haven’t even driven any of us insane. We have nothing to point to, not even an accusatory suicide note.

When we protest to the mall owners or train station managers about the loudspeakers, they always swindle us by using “Standard-Toleration-Level Theory”, and we have to retreat. Standard-Toleration-Level Theory (STLT for short) holds that there’s a noise “threshold”, which the average Japanese can tolerate, and anything above is “bad noise,” but anything below it is automatically OK. Even though noise sensitivity is a personal issue, and varies greatly from individual to individual, (in fact, precisely BECAUSE it is!) the authorities think they can mathematically average everyone out, and that this is the most fair way to settle noise disputes.  In fact, the courts can not use anything but  this sort of ‘statistical’ method.

It’s clear that this STLT theory – based on the principle of statistical fairness- is actually totally AGAINST equality : Sounds which the majority enjoy are damaging to the minority – it’s not at all equal. You could say we minority have a “cultural handicap”, but no hospital will diagnose us or validate our condition with a diagnosis. Despite the suffering it causes us to ride the train, we have to pay the same fee as the majority. Same with the price of coffee in the too-hot coffeehouses with their hateful background muzak. We have to pay taxes at the same rate as the majority, despite the fact that these taxes fund many of the SOUNDS and other annoyances.

People like me, who are trapped in a man-made hell of SOUNDS at all times and places, where merely leaving the house is like being cast into a lake of blood, no matter how much we suffer, we have no forum to present our case to society in general. Our pain and suffering is not recognized or legitimate. And that’s the biggest suffering of all. There is no exit from this public space!


WE WHO WANT PEACE AND QUIET ARE A NUISANCE TO OTHERS

The point I want to emphasize is this: intellectual theories are not going to help solve the problem of SOUNDS. The problem exists in a “blind spot” of theory, where there is no practical application. You can cogitate about the problem all you like, but it’s like a “black hole” that sucks in ideas without producing any results. As we have seen from looking at how Japanese social critics discuss “public space,” when they set out to discuss it, they wind up (without realizing it – or perhaps they secretly do?) drawing conclusions on other, irrelevant topics.

For instance, some of them begin with the concept of “You shouldn’t be a nuisance to others.” Oh, we Japanese are so kind! But this doesn’t address my questions in the slightest: it only works in a situation where everyone shares the same value system to begin with. The second that one introduces diversity to such a system, the theory becomes ineffective! Actually justifying things by “majority is always right” can lead to dangerous situations.

Bosozoku (teen biker gangs that like to race at night –ed.) are annoyance to the majority because most people want peace and quiet during the night-time. What’s more, nobody but the bosozoku asked for such noises. So according to those two criteria, the bosozoku’s noise is considered bad.

But when it comes to the Emergency Disaster Evacuation speakers, such criteria can no longer be applied. After all, some people ask for the noise, but some don’t. The “don’t faction”, also wants peace and quiet, yet the majority, who claimed “peace and quiet” when it came to bosozoku, now wants more noise! And, what’s worse, both factions accuse the other of being a “nuisance.” 

The “don’t faction” claims that the “do faction” is colluding with local government to make our lives miserable. But the “do faction” claims that the daily announcements are a good public service, which the “don’t”s are conspiring to take away from them. In other words, the same exact sound can have two opposite meanings to two sets of people. In the end, the majority and the government – despite their “don’t be a nuisance to others” policy – figure that the suffering of the minority is a price worth paying for the “public service” of announcements.

If a “don’t” presses his or her claim of mental suffering caused by announcements, and dares to appeal to the “don’t be a nuisance” rule, the city government official dismisses his / her claim as “egotistical” and outrageous, thus placing the “don’t” outside the social contract altogether.

In the case of escalator announcements, there is no doubt they cause me much mental anguish! But to the vast majority, doing away with the announcements would be “causing a nuisance.” Same with all the rest of the various SOUNDS.

More generally, any change at all that any minority demands can be dismissed out of hand as “causing a nuisance”. Without needing to think about it or negotiate logically! The majority doesn’t even realize that they are privileged by winning so easily!

To an average Japanese having dinner at a sushi or soba (noodle) restaurant, asking “Can you turn on the ball game?” is natural – it never crosses their mind that the owner will say “no.” Why? Because he assumes everyone else in the restaurant also wants to watch, therefore he’s asking on behalf of the majority. If someone should object, he gets mad – THEY are the egoist who wants to force THEIR taste on everyone! “If you don’t like it, go somewhere else!”

Similarly, if I were to ask for a nature documentary instead of baseball (something I certainly don’t have the courage to do anymore!), he’d think it was an unthinkably selfish request. He’d go pale in the face! And if I defended myself by saying, “If you don’t like it, go somewhere else!”, he’d be sure that I was truly mad. In his wildest dreams, he can’t imagine that his baseball program could be as much of a nuisance as a nature documentary.



KICKED OUT OF THE BAR

I’ve just described the “social construction of nuisances” (i.e. how the same exact criteria are used to label something “normal” or “irritating” depending on the circumstance). I have some rather interesting experiences of this, which I’d like to share with you now!

At a small bar near my University campus, I was drinking with a small group of editors. Behind a wooden screen was a group of about five or six young people. Perhaps because they were mostly women, they were really loud, laughing and clapping hysterically. I couldn’t hear my companion 50 centimeters from my face! I finally went up to the screen and loudly said, “Can you please keep it down? We can’t hear ourselves talk over here!” (in tennis terms, this was a ‘weak opening serve’).

From behind the screen, I heard mutterings of, “What’s that? What’s he yelling about?!?” and they were quiet briefly, but soon had returned to their habit of screaming hysterically. After thirty minutes of this, I could stand no more. I had to leave the bar. But as I was leaving, I poked my head behind the screen and yelled at the startled young people: I’M GOING HOME ALL BECAUSE OF YOU! ARE YOU HAPPY? I CAN’T STAND IT ANYMORE, BUT IT’S ALL OK, BECAUSE YOU GOT TO YELL AS LOUD AS YOU WANTED! (a ‘strong second serve’).

The young people screamed back: WE WERE HERE BEFORE YOU! WHAT THE FUCK! 

So far, this was a typical argument for me. It’s what happened next that merits inclusion in this book: the proprietress came flying out from the back room and dragged me outside! Then, while bowing, she asked me:

“Sensei, is there something the matter?”
“You’re asking that now? Those young people have been so loud, we can’t even hear our own conversation! You didn’t bother to put a stop to it, so I did it myself!”
Then the proprietress said something so retardedly amazing it made a huge impression on me: “I’m very sorry, sensei, but perhaps they didn’t realize their own volume in such a small place.”

It took me a second to realize what she was getting at: since it was a “small place”, it was my job to endure the noise, not their job to be quieter. It was me that was the nuisance for complaining. OK, I get it! I had the wrong idea all along! This realization made a deep impression on me, but now was not the time to dwell on it, as I had left all my stuff inside.

But the bar-owner had also come out, and stood in the doorway with both hands out, warding me off. In the end he went in to fetch my shoes and briefcase, rather than let me back in. Since I was the problem. As I was waiting for him to return, I could hear the young people, still screaming and laughing.

But in the end, I was not unsatisfied. I’d learned a valuable lesson about the Japanese mentality. If customers fight, the bar doesn’t sell more drinks. So it’s the duty of the quieter people to raise their voices as loud as the loudest people. That way, it seems that no one is annoyed. Until someone like me comes along!


UNABLE TO SEE THINGS FROM THE OPPOSING POINT OF VIEW


In a related topic, many sociologists, political theorists, philosophers, and social critics say “You should look at things from the other person’s point of view”. But, as I previously mentioned, when it comes to sensitivity levels, this is impossible! As for getting a “impartial third party observer” to help, where on earth could you find one? It’s like telling someone who likes not-hot curry to put himself in the shoes of someone who only likes super-hot curry. You could say, “Well, just use your imagination,” but how can you imagine enjoying a curry so hot it causes you physical pain? I suppose the “impartial third-party observer” would just force both people to eat “middle-hot” curry.

No matter how hard I try, I can’t imagine enjoying the SOUNDS. And I expect the average Japanese can’t imagine my suffering, either. We need to face the unpleasant facts here. But if we can’t argue based on “objectivity” or “seeing both sides,” what should we base our arguments on?

One of the ideas of contemporary German philosophy is that arguments can not be based on an objective notion of “what is good”: individual subjective “truths” can coexist without contradiction. In their theory, we should base our arguments on the notion that a “public space” is one in which everyone’s opinion can be heard.

When I first started proposing this German theory in Japan, everyone reacted very coldly. I tried my best, in phone calls, panel discussions, and letters, but in the end it became clear that it was futile. I must have argued with 500 people over the course of five years, and as time passed I noticed that I kept hearing the same responses over and over again. At the same time, I began writing and researching this book. And in the course of my research I realized that I’d been mistaken: it’s impossible to logically argue a case against all the announcements, cautions, warnings, etc.

The reality of the situation was grimmer than I realized! The same intellectuals that loudly preach “self-determination” and “self-responsibility” when it comes to abortion, bank scandals, and education, totally fail to apply these principles to street SOUNDS. The same “cultural elites” that decry the “spiritual degradation of modern Japan” are completely blind to the problem of the management announcements and slogans which pickle the nation!!!

When I propose that these are a social problem, they will nod their heads in agreement, but have no desire to actually do anything about it. Why is that? Because they agree intellectually but they are not suffering emotionally. They do not have the same sensitivity level as I, and they can’t imagine it. Even they, the smartest and most logical class of Japan, cannot use their logic to bridge the gap. Logic cannot compute suffering! Not only that, they don’t even understand what they are missing!

So, nowadays I don’t bother trying to argue logically anymore. Now I just yell SHUT THE EFF UP!, I might carry my own loudspeaker and point it at the “official one” to yell back at it, I might just hurl curses or act obsessive-compulsively. I’ve become quite extreme! Perhaps, in my abandonment of democracy, I’ve become like Hitler. But unlike Hitler, my ability to manipulate the general public is zero, my speech-giving skill is zero, my ability to comprehend the emotions of the common man is zero, and my desire to murder (though this might be difficult to believe) is also zero. So don’t worry about the Hitler thing I just said.


JUSTICE FOR SOUND-SENSITIVE MINORITIES: IT’S NOT THE SAME AS THE ISSUE OF MINORITIES WHO ARE AFFECTED BY ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION

I’m sure you’ve guessed by now that my personal anti-noise-pollution campaign can’t piggyback on the popular anti-environmental-pollution movement. The environmental campaign is based on statistically measurable damage. The damage has to be documented and approved by some external authority.

For example, the villagers who sue airports over noise make their case by documenting all the cases of hearing loss and miscarriages and then comparing it to the national average. The more “out-of-average” their community is, the more likely they are to win their lawsuit. Even when they sue for mental suffering, that claim is also backed by statistics: they point to an increase in their rate of crime and suicide.

People like me don’t have that kind of official recognition yet. And even if the doctors did develop a category of “hyper-sensitive to announcements”, even if I were diagnosed, proving cause and effect would not be that easy. Who is to blame for my condition? Is it something caused by external loudspeakers, or something I was born with? How to divide the blame?

Perhaps I’ve always been a bit “off” but the SOUNDS pushed me over the edge? But if that’s alone is enough to gain official recognition as “environmental damage”, what’s to stop someone who got romantically heart-broken (or failed his college exams) and attempted suicide from claiming the same thing?

The environmental problem is one of shared communal values and sensitivities: what each society decides collectively to tolerate in the way of pollution. So it offers no help to people like me who suffer because our sensitivities are unique. Nobody can defend us, because we’re statistically insignificant. Unlike the mentally or physically handicapped, we’re not even recognized as a minority group who is being discriminated against!

Especially since I am often loud and aggressive in stating my case, it’s difficult to be taken seriously as a “weak person” in need of legal protection.


BUT AREN’T ANNOUNCEMENTS FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE BLIND?

Let me be clear: I’m trying to get official recognition as a “weak person” but I have some misgivings about that term. In Japan, “weak person” generally is thought to mean blind or deaf people – the supposed audience of many excessive announcements: THE ESCALATOR ENDS SOON, PLEASE PRESS THE BUTTON WHEN YOU’D LIKE TO EXIT THE BUS, and so on. In other words, “helping the weak people” is the very foundation of the SOUNDS that I’m fighting against!

When the Sangawa station was remodeled, they installed some astoundingly useless tape loops, saying things like PLEASE DON’T ALL CRAM ONTO THE TRAIN, IT’S DANGEROUS and THE DOORS OF THE ELEVATOR WILL SHUT SOON, PLEASE BE CAREFUL. But they did not put a loudspeaker on the escalator. Now, as a result of my constant protests, both Hanamizu and Hachimanyama station had removed their escalator speakers. I assumed that Sangawa station had likewise decided to show some consideration to people like me, and was overjoyed!

So imagine my shock several months later, when suddenly I boarded the escalator and was assaulted by a huge voice yelling PLEASE WATCH YOUR STEP. . . . Of course I immediately went to the station office to protest, and then called the public relations office of the parent company. He explained to me the reason: a few days ago, a blind person asked the Sangawa station worker “Where is the escalator?” I replied, “He only wanted to know where it was, not how to use it! There’s no reason to play that tape loop all day at such a great volume!”

As a result of my phone call, they didn’t stop the announcement, but did reduce the volume. If they really wanted to be considerate of the visually impaired, they should just have installed some sort of quiet beeping tone near the entrance to the escalator. They didn’t need such a loud ridiculous announcement.

When I go to Kyoto, I often stay in the Garden Palace hotel. One day, as I entered the lobby, I realized there was an announcement playing: THIS IS THE GRAND PALACE! THIS IS THE GRAND PALACE! THIS IS THE GRAND PALACE! THIS IS THE GRAND PALACE!  After checking to confirm that it was on a constant loop, I went to the front desk to ask about it.  They told me that according to a new Kyoto city regulation, all public places had to install a “sound system” to tell blind people where the entrance was. I couldn’t believe it! The next time I go to Kyoto, will I have to listen to announcements every single building I visit?!? 

But when I read the actual regulation in question, it said absolutely nothing about the “sound system” having to be words. They could simply install some kind of bell that chimed KIN, KON, KIN, KON. Even if there were a lot of entranceways in one area, different sounding bells would be easy for a blind person to tell apart. In fact, recently on the news, I saw a report about a bell that would only ring in proximity to cell-phones owned by blind people, so it would only be on when it was needed.

And I’m well aware that a chime or bell is all that blind people are asking for. I’ve interviewed a blind person activist for a previous paper. According to him, out of the innumerable announcements that flood the streets of Japan, over 99 percent of them are NOT for the benefit of the blind. They’re not asking for these announcements. Furthermore, these excessive sounds are a nuisance to blind people, since they interrupt useful sounds which they need to navigate.  

And yet the elites – metro police, city hall, business associations, and so on, continue to install new announcements “for the benefit of the blind.” Hey! Why don’t you try asking them what they want?? Why don’t you examine the situation in more detail: what time of day are blind people most apt to be walking on the street? You could probably keep the announcements off most of the day, if only you were able to think outside the box.




SEGREGATING THE SOUND-SPACES IS IMPOSSIBLE

As I’ve mentioned, there is no theory which I can use! I can’t appeal to notions of “see things from the other person’s point of view” – since I’m seeking to protect myself! And I don’t think I can use mere logic to justify what I believe is right either. I don’t want to enlighten or guide my countrymen.

I just want to live my life without being labeled as a “crazy egotist” or “hypersensitive” or “he starts fights all the time.” I want to co-exist without having to be excluded from society. If only for ten minutes, I’d like to live like the majority do: in safety, comfort, absence of worry, with the idea that I’m entitled to pursue happiness like everyone else.

Here’s what I’d really like you to understand: Sounds from your environment penetrate your skin. The violence of this is not measurable. I’d like you to realize that when you are demanding this “cultural noise”, you are forcing your choices on everyone else (remember what I wrote earlier about how all places have a “public-space-ness” to some extent).

What if living spaces were segregated into SOUNDS and NO SOUNDS districts? The majority requires not just endless spewings of background music, radios and such, but they require endless announcements that tell them what to do at every moment: warnings, cautions, advice, reminders, just-in-cases, exhortations, and stern rebukes. Without these things, they would be incapable of doing anything at all, since they have no idea how to live their own lives. I want a separate space for people like me who DO. That way, everyone is happy, and I can be left in peace.

As for the people who don’t want to think for themselves or be responsible for their own actions, whatever! We let people smoke, don’t we? Despite the fact that it causes cancer. We expect smokers to choose their own fate and be responsible for it, don’t we? So why do we need the SOUNDS to tell us how to do everything else?

But at any rate, not all public spaces can be segregated into noisy and not noisy; the beach, the high plains, malls, and airports. . . the more widely used – the more public –  a space is, the more difficult it is to segregate. Simple segregation is simply not realistic, but it might give us a hint of how to proceed in the direction of co-existence.

If you want to complain about the SOUNDS at a mall, you’d have to go to each store and explain how they are causing you pain. It’s causing too much trouble, you think. It’s being too pushy about one’s rights, you think. But you’re wrong!

It’s no easy job to decide exactly what constitutes “public-space-ness,” let alone get others to re-consider their own views! Take for example, wheelchair users. Nobody can say that they get respect from city councils. It’s impossible for them to enter many coffeehouses, barbers, and supermarkets. To say nothing of public pools and bars! And they get no help from the government. Everyone knows that that’s the situation in Japan today. 

People like me (the “excessive noise neurosis” patients) are in exactly the same situation. We can’t go into coffeehouses without hearing crappy muzak. Even when they do play classical music, we can’t listen to it in the way we’d like to: there’s always people talking and clanking their silverware. Nobody listens to classical at home in such conditions!

But it’s next to impossible to find a café with no music. The same way, it’s impossible to find a restaurant, department store, supermarket, bookstore or barber with no muzak!  But if the muzak-having café was next to a NO-music restaurant, next to a muzak-having department store, next to a NO-music bookstore, only in such an atmosphere of equality could I enjoy my daily shopping. 

In other words: it doesn’t have to be completely silent, the important thing that people like me get some respect and can hold our heads up.

Having an environment where I don’t have to constantly worry about searching for a quiet place. This would make me feel like my rights are being looked after. Not complete silence, merely a splitting of the noise into pieces so it’s not a suffocating blanket. However, even this “half quiet” idea would be bad for the economy, bad for profits, so let’s give up on it.

However, people like me who have a “cultural handicap” find that – just like those who have a “physical handicap” – this country is not made for us or concerned about us. And unlike the latter, we (the former) aren’t even recognized as a minority group. Acts against us are not regarded as prejudice. We have no choice but to band together with other people of the same sensitivity. Or go home and cry.

We can’t very well construct our own supermarkets all over the country. Perhaps we should just ask for a “quiet section” in each supermarket. But even that would be bad for business. Just like real estate, the “sound environment” is so precious that every square meter generates profits for someone. Even if they made one single car of the shinkansen “the quiet car”, hardly anyone would use it.


TODAY’S SOCIETY IS JUST NUTS

Well, I suppose that would be enough to satisfy me. But that’s just speculation on top of speculation, not a proper conclusion. ??? 223

For the end of the book, I figured I’d finally stop being so cool-headed and rational, and at last let you know how I REALLY feel.

No matter how hard I try to understand it, the sound environment of contemporary Japan is just nuts.  I mean crazy nuts! Everyone is paranoid, unable to feel safe in their own bodies. If any kind of incident occurs, our first instinct is to blame the other person entirely. We’re all so alienated it’s crazy! We can’t decide anything on our own, we seek to avoid responsibility for everything, we blame everything on others, we can’t speak “private language”, we can’t do anything unless someone instructs us what to do, and all of this is considered great because it makes society run so “smoothly” and “efficiently”.

Add all the management announcements and slogans, the standardization of speech, thought, and sensitivity . ..

And still some social critics say, “In these modern times, there is no way that mere cultural background can be controlling our way of thinking so much!”

You’re jabbering nonsense! You don’t live in the distant past, you don’t live in the future. You don’t know how much past or future people were affected by their respective cultural backgrounds. . . I absolutely hate it when intellectuals indulge in such abstract speculation!

I want a society where you have to take responsibility and do things yourself, with a little more danger, a little more self-reliance, a little more inefficiency, a little less reliance on strangers, a little less expectations that strangers are the same as you, a little more suspicion of how people are trying to fool you . . . in other words, a society where all these management slogans and announcements aren’t necessary!

If we are spiritually able to act on our own, able to protect ourselves, able to speak “individualized language” . . . then we will be, at last, able to sense our own feelings. People, in the end, must realize that it’s their own responsibility to protect their own lives, bodies, possessions, and honor.

Yes! That’s the kind of society I’d choose for Japan. No, I can’t conclusively prove that it would be better for everyone. I can’t use logic. I only have my convictions: I BELIEVE it would be rad. I BELIEVE it would allow us to be more human. I BELIEVE it’s the right thing to do.



A PROPOSAL FOR SOCIAL REFORM OF JAPAN

Now, we’ve returned to my core beliefs. Futile as it may be, I’d like to propose a comprehensive 12-point plan for reforming Japanese bodies. Why futile? Because the Ministry of Education and Culture isn’t going to implement it. Changing our bodies (and the thousand years of training that those bodies have inherited) will require re-training of children from elementary school to college and beyond. It will also require all the “new-employee trainers” of various firms to cooperate to ensure that the new workers put the ideas they’ve learned into practice on the job. And I don’t anticipate that the corporations are going to cooperate, either!  So this plan is totally unrealistic. I’m just writing it because it’s the end of the book and I’m still mad. I need to get this off my chest in order to quell the anger.

ONE: For God’s sake, stop all these overly-detailed, overly-polite “guidance” slogans, announcements, and signs. They’re actually UNkind to people who are unfamiliar to a place, because they indicate that one should not ask other people for directions, and they imply that regulars should not help newcomers, since “the signs are supposed to do that.” Newcomers should have the confidence to ask random passers-by if they need to know something.

TWO: If you’re asked a question by a newcomer, don’t respond “How could you not know that?” or “What are you asking me for?!?”

THREE: Japanese should develop the ability to detect and overcome danger on their own. We should limit “be careful!” announcements to the absolute minimum. If you do detect a danger, you should react by telling people individually, through word-of-mouth, rather than constant pre-recorded announcements “Just in case there is a dangerous situation.” As for the Emergency Evacuation System, in no cases should it be used to transmit voices! Klaxon noises will do just fine, provided that people have been taught beforehand where to go in the event of an emergency.

FOUR: As to the so-called “weak people”, they should be assisted on a case-by-case basis, by able-bodied strangers, without announcements. If you see an old person or a handicapped person, or someone with heavy luggage having trouble on the stairs, you should just help them.

FIVE: The so-called “weak people” should not have to be excessively grateful for receiving help – this makes them feel like a burden. Just say, “Thanks” and that’s it.

SIX: These rules should not be phased in bit-by-bit. They should start immediately in full force!

SEVEN: Let’s really punish people who break these rules! Let’s abandon the idea of a paternalistic government. Let’s throw out all the bicycles parked illegally. Students who whisper in class should be suspended immediately. Either it’s a rule all the way or it’s not a rule! Let’s arrest the bosozoku, all of them! Or make them pay a 10,000 dollar fine every time they make a loud motorbike noise!

EIGHT: People in the service industry should be allowed to be rude right back to rude customers! Even to the point of refusing to serve them. Just say, “You’re disrespecting me!” and that’s the end of it. Rude customers have to learn to take responsibility for their behavior.

NINE: Everyone has to work diligently. Lazy people’s preposterous excuses like, “I didn’t hear your order” or “I was tired!” or “I misunderstood” should not prevent them from escaping one bit of punishment!

TEN: Society’s rules should not be subliminally forced on people through repetition and absorption – they should be fully spelled out and backed up with logic and discussion, so that people can understand the rules and consciously follow them. Then we wouldn’t need a hundred flags saying TRAFFIC SAFETY IS IMPORTANT or a hundred loudspeaker trucks urging us to PLEASE DON’T THROW LITTER ON THE GROUND.

ELEVEN: Seriously, get rid of these fucking meaningless “attitude slogans” like LET’S BUILD A NICER CITY or BE A CONSIDERATE CHILD! and other such vague and patronizing clichés.  While we’re at it, let’s ban the utterly hollow and brow-beating “management slogans” as well. No more THIS WEEK’S GOAL IS. . . or THE MOTTO OF THIS COMPANY IS. . . or BE A BETTER WORKER, TRY HARDER!

TWELVE: Stop training new employees to only speak in formalized clichés. There are plenty of ways to be polite while still sounding like a human, not a robot.

I could go on, but you get the idea.

 “If only we could put these rules into practice, what a human-centered and international country we could be! We could restore our traditions of kindness, respect for nature, aesthetic sensitivity, and seasonal feelings.”  . . .Is what you say. Bah! You know nothing! 

Japanese cannot change easily, even if we train our young from an early age to be different. . . even being conquered by America could not change our national character. It would take a hundred years of brand-new childrearing practices to even make a dent in it! So, why even worry about it? If you don’t like society, you don’t have to act Japanese. If you think that’s an impossible task, then fuck it! You can just go on not giving a shit. Go on, then. Fuck it!


5 comments

Mexico