“Hell on Earth” … well, not quite

Osorezan

Osorezan! “The Mountain of Fear.” Ain’t it quaint. It was the first stop on my recent tour of northern Japan with Curzon (who’s still wandering around the back roads of Hokkaido).

Although some misguided websites call it a mountain, it’s actually a temple in a valley surrounded by mountains. The temple is surrounded by rocky terrain lying atop a very sulfuric hot spring, which releases smelly gas from vents in the ground.

When pre-modern types saw this, they assumed that they were seeing spirits escaping the underworld. So legend has it that this is a natural gateway to Hell, and many pilgrims come to leave little offerings for the dead. One common sight around the hot springs is little stone statues dressed in children’s clothes—memorials to dead young’uns.

Anyway, if this is what going to Hell looks like, maybe I need to maintain my life of evil…

Mixi headed for IPO

Mixi, the 5 million-strong Japanese social networking service, is getting ready to go public with an IPO on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Mixi expects to get ¥6.9 billion from the deal, about 7 years’ profits at the current rate.

In case you haven’t tried it, it’s a mighty fine service. While it has the usual features—you can make a profile and leave comments about others—its real strength is in its communities and their message boards, and there’s one (or more) for just about anything imaginable. Kind of like Orkut meets Yahoo Answers. The diaries are also pretty popular, although I tend to avoid them because they’re just not that interesting.

We thought GREE was cool as hell a year and a half ago, and now we just look at it and laugh at its lameness.

New hanko, meet old public sector

One investment I might make soon is one of these new security hanko gadgets.

A hanko, for the uninitiated out there, is a personal seal that serves as your signature for most official purposes in Japan. It looks cool, but suffers from a major drawback: it’s very easy to forge. A person can get a color photocopy of your seal impression, or just take your hanko and seal all sorts of stuff in your name. Like, say, a divorce agreement. That wouldn’t be fun.

So Uniball’s new hanko uses a special security feature: you dial in a two-digit combination, which changes a pattern of marks surrounding your name. Unless a person knows the proper combination, they can’t get the seal to duplicate your registered seal impression.

But, according to Mobile Ojisan:

Mitsubishi Pencil recommends Dial Bank Hanko only for bank use. Some local government outright refuses to register this metal hanko as one’s personal seal.

Brilliant. Now I could protect myself from seal thieves, if only some mildly retarded guy at city hall wasn’t making up rules. “No, no no, your seal has to be ivory.”

Ishihara: “Grow some balls and stop hitting on robots”

That’s the gist of his latest interview. Maybe he just wanted to make the otaku cry.

If you go out in the world, it’s filled with sensitivity, and it’s much more interesting. For example, there is no fun in seducing a female robot who only acts in a certain way. But it’s fun to seduce a human, because you can only predict, but not know what will really happen. When it comes to seducing, it is fun to think how you can successfully reach the heart of the target.

Lest you be misled, he still knows where Japan’s strengths lie:
My plan for the Olympics is to fully utilize robot and computer technology. For example, it wouldn’t be too bad of an idea to have Astro Boy fly with the Olympic torch.

At least it didn’t have liquid in it

Copyright be damned, this one is best in its entirety:

Man accused of telling US airport security penis pump was a bomb

CHICAGO (AP) — Prosecutors say a 29-year-old man traveling with his mother desperately did not want her to know he had packed a sexual aid for their trip to Turkey.

So he told security it was a bomb, officials said.

Madin Azad Amin was stopped by officials on Aug. 16 after guards found an object in his baggage that resembled a grenade, prosecutors said.

When officers asked him to identify it, Amin said it was a bomb, said Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Lorraine Scaduto.

He later told officials he lied about the item because his mother was nearby and he did not want her to hear that it was part of a penis pump, Scaduto said.

Amin has been charged with felony disorderly conduct, said Andrew Conklin, a spokesman with the Cook County state’s attorney’s office.

Amin faces up to three years in prison if convicted.

UPDATE: What actually happened was that he tried to say “pump” in a really bad Arabic accent and it came out sounding like “bomb.”