A Quieter Coming of Age Day This Year

A girl coming of age.
Remember last year when there were all those reports of kids raising hell as if they came straight out of Battle Royale? Well this year there were some problems as well, but not nearly as bad as last year. Here are some highlights from this year’s festivities:

Stage dancer disrupts Aomori Coming of Age festival

A Coming of Age Day ceremony in Aomori was disrupted on Sunday after one of the participants jumped on the stage where the event was being held and starting dancing, officials said.

Officials at the ceremony in Aomori yanked the man off the stage, but about 10 of his friends continued to disrupt proceedings while a band was playing, throwing wastepaper at the stage.

In a separate Coming of Age Day incident in Naha, a man celebrating the day was arrested after he attacked a police officer who had taken custody of a drunk man, suddenly kicking the officer in the backside.

The man, who had been drinking with friends after a ceremony in Itoman, Okinawa Prefecture, was arrested at about 1 a.m. on Monday, for obstruction of official duties.

Personally, I was in Japan on that day and got to see some girls looking good in their kimono. I used to think it was an odd “old vs. new” juxtaposition to see the girls dressed in kimono while using their purikura-decked cell phones, but considering that it’s not that old of a tradition (made official in 1948) I don’t see any reason it should seem weird. The same goes for Buddhist monks riding motorcycles (something else I saw in Japan that gave me that “old meets new” feeling of irony).

Governor Cody

Cody is the current acting governor of New Jersey, serving the remainder of Jim McGreevey’s term following his unexpected resignation.

I just answered the phone to hear a recorded voice saying ‘Hello, I’m Governor Cody. Cold weather is approaching and-‘
And guess who isn’t getting my vote if he actually runs for next term. Do people even comprehend how tasteless prerecorded phone spam is?

Ohio Until Monday

Tomorrow morning I’ll be driving to Columbus, Ohio with my friend Alistair to help our friend Imara move back home to Montclair, our home town. Amazingly, this will be my first visit to a US state not bordering the Atlantic Ocean. I’ll be gone until Monday evening, just in time to get ready for Tuesday classes when the new semester starts. I’ll be taking my new camera along on the trip, and hopefully I can get some good photos out the window of the car.

New Camera

Canon Digital Rebel

After using my trusty Canon Powershot S40 (the camera which took almost every single previous image on this site) for over 2 years, I’ve finally upgraded to a more serious piece of equipment, the Canon EOS 300D, aka the Digital Rebel. This review will give you far more information than you would ever want to know about it, unless like me you engage in painstaking research before making a technology purchase. I took the Rebel with me on my recent trip to Florida, but I don’t yet think I have any pictures worth putting up. I’ll be sure to try and take some good ones soon though.

And now that I’ve got a decent digital SLR camera, I can start pining for the gyro-stabilized telephoto lense.

Allow me to introduce myself

Hi, I’m Adamu, and I’ll be one of the contributors to this site. Whereas Roy focuses more on technology and photography, my interests are more abstract: the domburi. Most of my posts will be translations of Japanese news articles that don’t make it to press on other sites or news publications. I call and categorize these Jappanica, named after my old website of the same name. From time to time I will also be posting old articles from the site.

Adamu is just my online handle. No, really. I lived in Japan for two years, learning the Japanese language and irreparably damaging my psyche in the process. Right now I live in DC, working on various projects with high-profile clientele (Again, don’t ask). Otherwise not a whole lot to tell about me. I like video games, hip hop, politics (I’m a radical liberal but also a pragmatist), North Korea and dreaming of one day making it big in Tokyo. The rest I hope you’ll figure out as we go along.

So, dear readers, I hope that gives you an idea of who I am and what I’ll be doing here. Thanks to Roy for all the hard work involved in setting this thing up.

Hong Kong City

Various photos of urban Hong Kong. The HSBC photo was discovered on my previous blog by a Hong Kong based PR firm that offered to buy it from me for use on some kind of promotional postcard, possibly for HSBC themselves.

Fortune Teller’s Tools
Taken February 28th 2004.

Temple Street is one of the main market areas in HK, with everything from fake name brand clothing to old fashioned Chinese fortune tellers like this. There are maybe a dozen fortune tellers clustered together where Temple Street passes by a small public park. Most of them have a sign advertising their services in six different languages.
In this picture, the sign in the background is written in Japanese – clearly for the benefit of tourists. Translated it says “Can speak Japanese. Palm-reading, Face Physiognomy{Divination by form, I’ve never heard of that before}, Fortune-telling, House Physiognomy {according to my dictionary, determining whether a house is lucky or unlucky based on it’s location, position and architectural plan using methods derived from the five classical Chinese elements of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water}.

Korean DMZ

See accompanying photos here.
In 2002 I went on a short trip to Korea with a few friends for the week of Christmas. We mostly stayed in Seoul, but one day we took a guided tour to the South Korean side of the DMZ (DeMilitiarized Zone) surrounding the border shared with North Korea. Driving from Seoul, only miles from the border itself, into the DMZ is a strange experience. My knowledge of the geography of the Seoul area is far too weak for me to try to describe the passage from the heart of the city, so all I’ll say is you pass through thick suburbs on the way to the surrounding less populated areas. After leaving the boundary of the greater Seoul metropolitan area the building density drops dramatically, and after passing the first military checkpoint is almost zero- except for the occasional watchtower or guardpost. They are very serious about these military checkpoints, guarded jointly by South Korean and US soldiers.

The highlight of the tour, and in a way of the entire trip to South Korea, was the invasion tunnel. According to the museum, the invasion tunnels were first discovered by the South Korean military with intelligence gained from Northern defectors in either the late 60’s or early 70’s (I don’t remember the date) and over the next few years three more were found. According to the best estimates of South Korean and US military intelligence there are around twenty more tunnels waiting to be discovered, but none has been uncovered in many years. The tunnels aren’t very wide, but it is said that 30,000 North Korean troops could pass through one every hour in the event of an invasion.

When the invasion tunnels were first discovered by the South Korean government, they naturally asked the Northerners for a statement of some kind. At first they tried to claim it was a natural geological formation – for some reason occuring in a North-South straight line about the height of an adult human. When the next tunnel was found, the North tried to claim that it had been dug by the South. This story was easily discredited when measurements of the tunnel showed that it sloped so that water would run out of the Northern mouth. With the next tunnel they claimed it was an abandoned mine shaft. To back up the story they pointed to the coal residue coating the walls. The South pointed out that mine shafts generally go downwards at some point, and more importantly tend to have chunks of coal in them, not just coal dust spray-painted on the rock surface.

The third tunnel has been turned into a museum for tourists like us. Of course photography is prohibited but I managed to snag one fantastic shot of the end of the tunnel – at least the farthest point any tourists are allowed to go in. (I’ll post it tomorrow.) The invasion tunnel was the beginning of my fascination with North Korea.

Here is an article about one tunnel hunter in South Korea, ostensibly from the Wall Street Journal.

Progress = Pigeon

When reading an article on the progress of 3G and 4G cellular phone networks I noticed this excert-

OFDM networks at close to 1Gbps, while others like Wi-Lan are showing off connections at high speed, up to 100 kilometers per hour.

Data transmission speeds of 100 kilomoters per hour? It seems a bit slow to me, it must be that IP-over-pigeon tech I’ve been reading about.