GREAT NEWS! Krispy Kreme Doughnuts to Open in Japan!

One less reason for expats to go back home – Krispy Kreme will be opening in Japan this winter! Nikkei has the details:

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Lotte To Bring U.S. Doughnut Chain Krispy Kreme To Japan

TOKYO (Nikkei)–Lotte Co. plans to start opening Krispy Kreme doughnut chain stores in Japan this coming winter with turnaround specialist Revamp Corp., The Nihon Keizai Shimbun learned Wednesday.

As a first step, Lotte and Revamp aim to set up a joint venture around late May and to open through it one or two stores in Tokyo this year. This venture is expected to increase the number of stores to 30-50 in five years by opening locations at major train terminal buildings and shopping malls around the nation. It may also set up Krispy Kreme stores inside Lotteria hamburger chain restaurants, as well as open new Krispy Kreme-Lotteria joint stores at malls.

Lotte Group already runs Krispy Kreme franchise stores in South Korea. In Japan, it has decided to team up with Revamp to tap that firm’s extensive knowledge of the Japanese consumer market.


In Japan, prices will likely be set around 100 yen — about the same as or slightly less than doughnuts at Duskin Co.’s Mister Donut chain, which dominates the Japanese market with some 1,300 stores and annual sales of 125 billion yen.

I hope they decide on a location for the first stores soon so I can start apartment-hunting in the area.

This is a bold move against the good-but-could-be-much-better Mister Donut. Krispy Kreme doughnuts are great but simply do not have enough of an international presence. Once, on a trip to Japan I spotted a Filipino kid taking boxes and boxes of the things home for his family. Also, I make it a point to take every Japanese friend of mine who visits to eat at “KK” (as Mrs. Adamu calls it). Every single one of the people who tried it loved the hot fresh doughnuts. It actually ended up being the highlight of the trip for one of Mrs. Adamu’s friends (“I’ll never forget those melt-in-your-mouth doughnuts,” she said).

Indeed, Krispy Kreme’s already got a bit of a word-of-mouth reputation among Japanese expats and tourists, so perhaps that will help KK establish itself in Japan. Apparently, Japanese residing in New York have already invented a cute abbreviation for it: “Kuri Kuri” (from the Japanese Kurisupii Kuriimu).

Bubble Aota says outloud what most hardcore fundie women only dream about

Great new single from aging Japanese model Noriko Aota – “Jesus.” You can listen to a clip of the song by clicking the icon on the lower right-hand portion of this site. Here are some of the uplifting lyrics:

I wanna kiss Jesus power & soul
I don’t wanna pray, let’s kiss!
I wanna kiss Jesus power & soul
Let’s hold hands to love each other!

I wanna kiss Jesus power & soul
Hold him in my hands, as much as I want
I wanna kiss Jesus power & soul
Let’s hold hands like lovers!

Oh, Jesus! Oh, Jesus! Attention my heart!
Look at me, over there!

This real-life manifestation of Cartman’s vision reminds me of those Christian women who talk about Jesus as if he’s the world’s best boyfriend.

(Thanks to conbinibento for letting us know)

Put a Statue of Dave Chappelle in the Capitol!

This just in! DC’s non-voting representative in Congress is sponsoring a bill to put two statues of famous DC natives in the Capitol building’s rotunda among statues from the “real” states.

You can vote for your choices here. The site provides a bunch of boring “historical” figures, but I personally recommend you write in master comedian and DC native Dave Chappelle. Why? Cuz he’s rich, biotch!

Story here. Thanks to NPR.

What are you waiting for? Get out of here and vote already!
Note that if you write a candidate in you cannot check the other choices.

UPDATE: Great article on Slate (“Dave Chappelle’s Problem – He Can’t Escape White People”) from a couple weeks ago on Dave Chappelle’s Block Party movie. The article describes the movie as Chappelle’s attempt to create a black audience for himself, which is basically an unnattainable goal. I’m not doing the article justice, so go read it for yourself!

Aiful dog to be put to sleep? One can only hope!

It’s about damned time the FSA did something about legal loan-sharking in Japan:

Friday, April 14, 2006

FSA To Slap Business Suspension Order On All Aiful Outlets

TOKYO (Nikkei)–The Financial Services Agency has decided to impose a business suspension order of up to 25 days on all domestic outlets of consumer credit firm Aiful Corp. (8515) as punishment for aggressive collection tactics, The Nihon Keizai Shimbun learned Thursday.

This administrative punishment, unusual in its harshness, will be the first-ever disciplinary action by the FSA against a major consumer credit company. The measure is likely to have a major impact on calls for tougher regulations for the sector.

The decision may be formally announced as early as Friday. In addition, Aiful was allegedly obtaining powers of attorney from clients without their consent. The suspension will be 20-25 days for the Hokkaido and Kyushu branches where improper activities took place, and three days for all other locations. Aiful operates nearly 1,700 outlets across Japan.

But here’s the kicker: Aiful plans to cancel all advertising for the time being. Rejoice!

Aiful is deepening its equity and business ties with banks through mergers and acquisitions. It has also been cooperating with several regional financial institutions in the business of loan guarantees.

The firm will rush to clean up its act by cutting management salaries and reviewing management practices. It will also cancel all advertising, at least for the time being.

The ads were extremely annoying – a man sees a cute chiuahua at a pet store, imagines himself in all kinds of whimsical situations with the dog, and apparently decides to go heavily into debt to get the little dog. Another tactic used by most of the companies is to use attractive spokeswomen to showcase the “good service” they offer. I, for one, will not miss the cloying fabrications.

Of course, the practice of super-high-interest loaning is still legal – the loan sharks are just not allowed to start acting like Scientologists in their collections policies.

This practice of usurious lending has humongous social ramifications in Japan. Just about every other story on ZAKZAK is about some schmuck with a pachinko habit who started embezzling or robbing people to pay back “consumer debt.” Ads for the numerous companies block the mountains, and one can find “ATMs” which are actually unmanned loan application terminals, on city streetcorners, never far from a pachinko establishment. Meanwhile, the founders of these companies have made themselves billionaires.
Continue reading Aiful dog to be put to sleep? One can only hope!

Watchung Plaza {not} in miniature [Photo]

A week ago I finally recieved my Hartblei 65mm Superrotator tilt/shift lense. For only $350 you can get an imported Ukrainian-made lense of excellent quality, that matches, and in some ways even surpasses, the features of the Canon T/S lenses that retail for about $1100. I posted a set of photos I took with this lense right after it arrived. These aren’t by any means the greatest photos I have taken, but I want to show off some of the strange focusing effects you can get from a tilt/shift lense.

Watchung Plaza (from train bridge)
Notice the “dollhouse effect”

Watchung Train Station

Flag on the local Chase bank branch

Street sign after car crash
Notice how only the center is in focus, despite the fact that I was facing it squarely

April 5, 2006
Canon Digital Rebel w/ Hartblei 65mm Super-rotator

Iron Sheik: In Japan they call you Khosrow Vaziri

I was intrigued to note that the classic WWF’s own Iron Sheik is actually known by his real name, Khosrow Vaziri, in Japan. Apparently, the former bodyguard for the Shah did not get the same villainous characterization in Japan.

Of course, the Iron Sheik has popped back into the public eye with the release of some amazing interviews with him:

  • Where he calls Brian Blair “a fag worse than Michael Jordan… I mean Michael Jackson.”
  • And where he expounds his hatred for “loss-bians
  • ↑ This shit is CLASSIC, people.

    Interview with Producer Toshio Suzuki of “Ged War Journal” – Suzuki finally tells tells us: “Why Goro?”

    I guess the official English title of this is “Wizard of Earthsea” but the title I’m using is a direct translation of the Japanese title, Gedo Senki. Anyway, here is the section of Yomiuri’s interview with Ghibli Studios producer Toshio Suzuki relevant to the issue I care about: why Hayao Miyazaki was against his son directing this film! (Interview is from 12/26/2005)

    UPDATE: More info on the film in English at the Ghibli site by the book’s English translator. And apparently someone already posted a translation of this interview, but mine is much better.

    Q. Why was Goro-san chosen as director?

    Suzuki: The precondition of all this was the future of Ghibli. Isao Takahata is 70. Hayao Miyazaki is almost 65. Together they’re 135! Add my age in there and it gets close to 200 (lol) ! At this rate it will be the end of Ghibli. However, this company was created because they wanted to make movies as a pair, and I am also satisfied with this. There is a part of me that thinks “this might be enough” but we also have a responsibility to the young people who are a part of the studio, after all. However, Hayao may be a genius on the creation end, but he is not necessarily good at teaching. If you drive with him in the passenger side, you’ll understand. He keeps saying stuff on the side, so most people end up getting neurotic about it. I have seen it in the production stage many times, since different people were slated to direct “Kiki’s Delivery Service” (1989) and “Howl’s Moving Castle,” but eventually Hayao took the helm. Of course there is no ill-will from Hayao. But there are actually people who ended up with ulcers (lol). That is why I thought of Goro. With him, I figured it might go well.

    Q. But, he has no animation production experience…

    Suzuki: That didn’t bother me. Even when he created the Ghibli Museum following Hayao’s drawings, he might have had landscaping experience, but he didn’t have any construction experience, did he? First of all, I think that if anyone can observe they can draw. That comes from when I was making the magazine “Animation Monthly.” I would have editors who normally did not draw do self portraits for their editor’s notes. They all said it was impossible at first, but once they started carefully observing their faces, they were able to finish drawing [the self portraits]. What’s more, there was enough appeal to have them work their hardest. Goro often drew caricatures during meetings, so I thought that he, as someone who can observe, could draw pictures.

    Q. Did Goro always have an interest in animation?

    Suzuki: I don’t know. Normally, people dislike working near their fathers, but there was probably an interest in his father’s work somewhere. I felt that when he accepted the job at the Ghibli Museum.
    Continue reading Interview with Producer Toshio Suzuki of “Ged War Journal” – Suzuki finally tells tells us: “Why Goro?”

    Bomb Threats for fun and Profit: Japanese Terrorist Wants his Welfare, and an April Fools “joke” gone Wrong

    Who could wish harm on such a pretty sunset?ZAKZAK!

    Man Dials Emergency Hotline With City Hall Bomb Threat after “Being Denied Public Assistance”

    The Tokai Precinct of the Aichi Prefectural Police arrested an unemployed male (55) on suspicion offorcible obstruction of business for calling in a bomb threat to the Obu City Hall on April 9.

    According to the police’s investigation, the man is suspected of calling 110 [emergency hotline similar the 911 in the US] from a public phone from 12:12 until 12:23 on April 9 and reported that “the Obu City Hall building will be bombed at noon on April 12,” obstructing business. He was arrested by police from the Tokai precinct, who rushed to the scene while he was on the line.

    The man has explained, “I applied for public assistance, but I was denied.”

    ZAKZAK 2006/04/10

    Meanwhile, unnamed foreign students in Burma apparently don’t get that it’s supposed to be an April Fool’s joke:

    Myanmar junta says bomb was April Fools joke

    Published: Monday, 10 April, 2006, 11:56 AM Doha Time

    YANGON: Myanmar’s military junta said yesterday that a time bomb found at an upscale international school last week was likely planted by foreign students as part of an April Fools joke.

    The bomb, similar in design to explosives that killed 19 people in the capital almost a year ago, had been found and defused at the International School of Yangon on Thursday, security personnel said.

    Brigadier-General Kyaw Hsan, information minister of the ruling State Peace and Development Council, told a press conference that investigators had to consider other factors since the students of diplomats from the United States and other foreigners working in Myanmar attend the school.

    Good one!