Sankei’s Iza! is great, Asahi’s Japanese website is improving

UPDATE: I am forced to take back my praise of since it has come to light that a) The photo section isn’t new or any better than other similar services; and b) They are ending the great “Today’s Morning Edition” feature.

Last June, the Sankei Shimbun corporation launched a new site called Iza! (meaning “when it counts”), a “participatory news site” that has proven groundbreaking for the online Japanese-language media. The site unites some content that was previously on disparate websites for Sankei group publications (including the flagship Sankei Shimbun, trashy daily Yukan Fuji/ZAKZAK, and sports daily Sankei Sports), features blogs run by their own reporters (such as Washington-based Yoshihisa Komori and the reporters assigned to intellectual property issues), allows the creation of user-generated blogs, displays trackbacks for all its stories, RSS feeds for everything, and — perhaps most importantly — includes a whole bunch of content that once could only be found online.

I am pleasantly surprised at the site’s quality, but at first I was skeptical that Japan’s most conservative national daily could “get it” when it comes to online news. But they do get it, and they are leaving other sites in the dust. Sankei has a motivation to revamp its business: the main Sankei Shimbun is only the 6th-place newspaper in Japan, the last among the nationally-circulated papers and behind even the regional Nagoya-based Chunichi Shimbun. One sign of success: Sankei is using the site to launch blog-inspired books, such as this one by a political reporter.

Though most of the major newspaper sites give out their editorials and some columns for free, many (Nikkei is probably the worst offender) still feature pitiful two-line summaries of their feature news articles (or brief reprints from wire services) and offer nothing that could be termed full news coverage. An August 2006 Bivings Report study of Japan’s online media market concluded that in general “Japanese papers are not taking aggressive Web strategies (except when it comes to cell phones).” Focusing on cell phone content may be in line with many readers’ demands, but there is a growing market for online journalism that I believe will match the US’ development of online media as a main source of news, even if many of the users will in fact be reading from cell phones.

There are many factors that contribute to a general reluctance among the national newspapers to modernize (government-sanctioned protection against price competition chief among them), but they are under increasing pressure to get their act together. The share of ad spending that goes to newspapers has declined from 21% to 17% over the last 10 years. Online ad revenues have doubled in the past 2 years and are making up a growing share of the total ad market. Perhaps more importantly, Dentsu, which is the primary ad agency for an astonishing 92% of Japan’s dailies, is starting to focus more of its attention on this exploding area of the market. And unlike print newspapers, there are no government-provided barriers to entry in place, which lets companies that aren’t even in the newspaper business try and challenge newspapers’ dominance of print media and compete for ad money. Livedoor already has excellent news and citizen journalism sites, for example. Also, Yahoo and JANJAN have politics websites that blow away anything the newspapers have had to offer in the past.

One newspaper site that seems to be getting the hint is Asahi Shimbun. Ever since a string of reporting scandals left the newspaper weakened in terms of credibility and access to politicians, the Asahi launched a campaign to reform itself called “Journalist Declaration.” The paper pledged to return to the principles of its mission statement to “Persevere in freedom of expression from a position of neutrality” and “fight corruption without any illegality or violence.” Specifically, the Asahi decided to take on major organizational reforms to “create a flexible reporting organization that allows for fully developed investigative reporting and meets the needs of the times.”

Asahi decided to stop running TV ads for the campaign after it was found that an evening edition article on winter rice cakes had been plagiarized from an online Yomiuri article. One of the ads is thankfully still on YouTube, however.

Nevertheless, the cleaning house has done the Asahi some good. There really have been some great stories broken by the Asahi in the past year and a half or so, some of which I’ve mentioned here. But the biggest personal benefit for me is that the Asahi’s Japanese-language website has improved quite a bit:

An idea of what’s in the day’s morning edition – Click on the Editorial link on the front page and above the editorials there is a list of the various sections of the paper (Front page/International/Society etc). One article per section is available in (I assume) full length, along with just the headlines for other articles. Even apart from this section, however, it seems like most of the big news items get a much more detailed treatment than other major news sites, even though they might not be full-length.
Better RSS – You can now preview the first line of the article along with the headline where previously all you got was the headline (they put in ads, but it’s not a bad trade-off). You can get the Asahi’s Japanese-language RSS feed here. It’s still hidden from the front page for some reason. I’d of course like to see them offer some more variety in the RSS rather than a single feed of latest headlines.
Bigger pictures – One of my biggest pet peeves about Japanese news sites is the use of tiny, often indecipherable photos to go along with their stories. I don’t know why they did that, but I am guessing it was some compromise reached over copyright concerns. Whatever the case, Asahi’s new photo gallery section now lets you get a big eyeful of newsmakers like Bank of Japan governor Toshihiko Fukui:


None of the Asahi’s new features allow for any “Web 2.0” style interconnectivity a la Iza, but in terms of pure news transmission this is a big step in the right direction. Other sites are of course not standing still (Yomiuri has a forum!), but so far I am most impressed by these two efforts.

The Joe reading list

I’ve been using Google Reader for the past few months to monitor some of my favorite blogs and news sites. I follow 10 to 15 sites at any one time. More than that, and I don’t have enough time to read it all: less than that, and I feel uninformed.

My list changes regularly, since the quality of feeds (and my interest in them) varies over time. Here’s what I’m currently watching. Continue reading The Joe reading list

My Mexican Experience in Thailand – ¡muy malo!

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As part of the week-long birthday festivities for Mrs. Adamu, on Friday we had the chance to visit Charley Brown’s Tex-Mex Cantina, one of the few places in Thailand that can claim to serve anything close to Mexican food. I ignored Cosmic Buddha’s reservations about the place and decided to go anyway. Some thoughts:

  • I’ll start with something positive: in terms of food, there was nothing Thai about it at all, so my taste buds could forget they were in Southeast Asia for an hour or so. But here’s the bottom line: I’ve had El Paso instant taco mixes in the US that were about on par with this. Seriously, it barely registered as restaurant-level Mexican food. I give the place credit for at least giving it the old college try, but I’d wonder whose white grandmother was making the stuff if I had it back home. No discernible flavor to the meat, and the end product felt very mashed together. My chicken burrito was smothered in cheese on the outside that made it soggy (unexpected bonus – the refried beans tasted just like the beans they serve at Popeye’s chicken!). On top of that, it ended up being one of the most expensive restaurants I’ve ever visited in Bangkok – the bill came to 800 baht (approx US$20) for two dishes offering middling portions and 3 Heinekens. Here’s what it the burrito looked like:
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  • The manager of the establishment, a young British-sounding man named Chris, made a go at being friendly and asked how our meal was. This practice of returning to a table after the meal is served and asking how things are going is standard for the US but is something I had never seen until I came here. Still, it was a little off-putting when he decided to put off bringing us our bill to down a shot with some other ex-pats, who made themselves enough of a part of our dining experience that they earn their own bullet point below:
  • Our experience was badly marred by its intended customer base: Western tourists and sexpats. Mrs. Adamu and I could barely carry on a conversation over a boisterous group of Aussies, and people filtered in and out from a nearby outdoor whites-only drinking establishment. Worse than that, however, had to be the pasty white men and their Thai hooker escorts sitting at the 3 tables around us. Nothing ruins a meal faster than seeing some 50-something ‘Nam vet pawing at his new plaything between bites of enchilada. Oh, and their fat bodies bounced around enough to rattle Mrs. Adamu’s seat since the booth chairs were connected. We kind of knew what to expect after we tried to eat there unsuccessfully on Monday (it’s closed on Mondays, a fact that didn’t make itself known on the online site we checked), since to get there one must wade through myriad cheap crap stores, decrepit beggars, and numerous prostitution venues. The area outside the Nana skytrain station is notorious as a red light district, so in that sense it’s our fault for going in the first place.
  • Recommendation: unless you have no problem with sex tourism and are sure that you’ll never ever visit a part of the world with good Mexican food again, stay away from Charley Brown’s.

    My two favorite “Western” reporters on Japan

    For some reason, foreign financial reporters on Japan seem to have the best perspective. Here are two examples:

    William Pesek, a columnist for Bloomberg, earned my admiration back in June when he cut through layers of government spin to find the real reason why BOJ Governor Toshihiko Fukui should resign:

    The scandal involving his 10 million yen ($86,950) investment in a fund led by a shareholder activist jailed on insider-trading charges has gone beyond theater and farce. It now threatens to tarnish Japan’s global reputation.

    Even if it turns out Fukui didn’t break any laws, his actions were dumb. Fukui invested in Yoshiaki Murakami’s fund in 1999, when he was at the Fujitsu Research Institute. He applied in February to sell his shares, raising questions of propriety as the BOJ prepares to boost rates for the first time since August 2000 and after his investment more than doubled in value.

    The bigger problem is how vehemently Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has come to Fukui’s defense. It means the BOJ governor, who is supposed to be independent, now owes the prime minister. The upshot is that a rate hike that was widely expected in July may be delayed until after Koizumi steps down in September.

    Fukui, 70, yesterday said “monetary policy isn’t affected by politics” and that the BOJ needs to adjust rates “without delay.” Even so, the mere perception that BOJ policies are paralyzed thanks to Fukui’s missteps is reason enough for him to resign.

    Preach it!

    Coming in at No. 2 (only because he doesn’t cover issues I’m curious about often enough) we have David Piling, the FT‘s correspondent in Tokyo. Like Pesek, he’s adept at cutting through the BS, even when it comes from his fellow Britons as in this book review:

    To wish [the “unique” aspects of Japan] away would be to miss something recognisably Japanese. Yet, to treat Japan as inherently odd can quickly stray into stereotype, even prejudice. Just as bad, it can bolster the case of those Japanese exceptionalists who assert that Japan is unique, superior and unknowable by foreigners.

    In Atomic Sushi, May seeks to break the deadlock by recounting, wittily and often brilliantly, his personal experiences, greedily amassed during a year spent teaching at the University of Tokyo.

    The approach, as befits a professor, is to tell a story (often hilariously) and then to offer analysis. The interpretations are sometimes amusing and astute, but sometimes they are so sweeping as to be virtually meaningless. Take the account of a beautiful girl who, though standing, falls asleep virtually draped over a commuting businessman. Apparently in the depths of slumber, she nevertheless awakens the instant the train reaches her destination.

    She apparently displays the Japanese people’s “pervasive and acute alertness to their environment and its subtle signals, instilled perhaps by their constant vulnerability to earthquakes”. Or maybe she just heard the station announcement.

    As a reporter, Piling will undoubtedly be replaced when his time comes to be promoted or the FT feels that his closeness to Japan could pose a conflict of interest problem (one major reason why many news companies replace their foreign correspondents so often). I can only hope that they find someone with as keen judgment.

    There are many who feel that Japan shouldn’t have to put up with foreign criticism, or that Japan’s image needs to be mollycoddled by official propaganda and numerous underdisclosed shills. But I can’t stress it enough that open debate and frank discussion (most especially when it’s available for free on the Internet), such as the above examples, are desirable when you’re talking about understanding another society, discussing policy choices in a society in which you’re invested, in monetary terms or otherwise. It results in a better informed public and a broader range of ideas from which to draw inspiration and guidance.

    Great site that needs an RSS feed #232: Sankei Breaking News

    Want to know what just happened in Japan or areas that Japan cares about? Well if you can read Japanese fragment sentences, the best free place to turn is probably Sankei Breaking News. I bet you didn’t know that eel prices are up 20% on low catches of sardines and fewer imports from China, did you?

    Only thing is you actually have to load the site to see it. That is so 2003!

    Required Movies for American Japan Watchers

    The following is slightly modified from a response to an e-mail I received requesting recommendations for good “films on Japan” such as Lost in Translation of The Last Samurai.

    The recent double threat of Lost in Translation and Last Samurai (but not the dud Memoirs of a Geisha), like some other popular Japan-themed films, were all good, entertaining movies, but I never felt like any of them gave me much insight on my experiences in Japan. As an alternative, I present my picks, in descending order of how highly I recommend them, that weren’t necessarily the best-made or most purely entertaining, but nonetheless got me thinking about the US-Japan relationship or the experiences I had while I was (ostensibly) studying there:

    Fog of War (2003) – Essentially a long interview with Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defense under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson and WW2 vet who helped orchestrate the firebombing of Japan in 1945. The movie is great on so many other levels, but I recommend this to those studying Japan for the sections that talk about “proportionality in war” and the wholesale bombing of Japan. America destroyed a majority of most of Japan’s cities and capped it off with two atomic bombs. Consider this – the US visited upon Japan heretofore untold destruction and chaos. McNamara asks: was this proportional to US aims? Having watched this movie, it makes perfect sense to me why many Japanese seem to treat visiting Americans as if the GHQ were still around. The film serves as a good conversation starter and a challenge to the bland rationalizations that Americans learned in their US History classes in high school.

    Seven Samurai (1954) – I am in no way a film buff (look at my other recommendations!), but this movie is one of the best action movies I’ve seen from any country. Seven guys, and they all get a chance to kick some ass. This film is all about being a man, so ladies should probably stay away- that is, if they can resist the mysterious allure of Toshiro Mifune.

    Mr. Baseball (1992) – Tom Selleck plays an aging Yankee sent to play for Chunichi Dragons. Hates it, won’t listen to coach, but in the end learns to work within the system while teaching his stuffy coach a thing or two and, of course, sleeping with his daughter. All you male ALTs out there could only hope to be so lucky! Then again, none of you are Tom Selleck. For better or worse, this is considered to be a pretty well-done “American fish out of water in Japan” movie. Even though the plot is something of a gaijin fantasy, it’s a generally true-to-life portrayal of Japan that can at the very least serve as a heads-up to some of the more obvious culture shocks (squat toilets, low doors, weird guys screaming strange English at you).

    Whispers of the Heart (1995) – This is a movie from Ghibli Studios (think Princess Mononoke) about a little girl who falls in love with a fiddle-playing wunderkind and finds mystical guidance from a magical German cat. Boring! Forget the story and take in the sights as she walks around a lovingly and painstakingly detailed animated depiction of suburban Japan. I’d recommend this more to returnees than newcomers, but this movie could come in especially handy during those inevitable “Japan-hating gaijin” periods. I mean, if the Miyazaki crew could find this much to love about Japan, then there’s got to be some good stuff left over for little old you, too. One thing that didn’t sit right with me about WOTH would have to be the “dealing with your own mediocrity” theme that is featured in this movie and common elsewhere in Japanese pop culture (See “Sekai ni Hitotsu Dake no Hana” by SMAP). Call me an idealist, but I’m not ready to give up that easily, and neither should young Shizuku!

    BTW, this movie turned me into a John Denver fan, and if watching it doesn’t make you a convert, then you should at least understand why so many Japanese people like him.

    MXC – Show on Spike TV that’s a (loose) dub of an older Japanese show featuring host Beat Takeshi as he presides over the painful experiences of contestants in a brutal obstacle course game show. I can imagine nothing more humiliating in life than being run over by an enormous, papier-mache boulder and then being fire hosed by a Power Rangers villain as punishment. This should serve as a great introduction to Japan’s culture of humiliation, pointless endurance, and unabashed gaudiness. Sadly, this type of stuff is no longer typical of Japanese TV (at least when I was there, lots of tame talk shows, eating shows, and dating shows – though it looks like pain TV seems to be making something of a comeback these days).

    Gung Ho (1986) – Funniest scene in this movie is the corporate re-education camp in the beginning (ribbons of shame, anyone?). Michael Keaton plays a union leader in the Midwest who convinces a Japanese auto company to take over a shut down factory. The American workers, including George Wendt of “Cheers” fame, get uppity when the Japanese managers expect them to work with no sick time or human dignity, as Japanese supposedly do. Never mind that real managers at Japanese auto factories in the US never tried this in real life. The plot twists this way and that, but eventually the workers make a near-impossible promise to become as productive as any Japanese plant within a month – Can they do it? Yes, sort of. The message? If only American auto workers would give up their silly unions and work themselves to the bone, then the jobs would stay. The movie suffers from some annoying performances, one-dimensional characters, and bad writing in general, but it is still worth watching just to see how scary Japan was to the US back in 1986. We let go of those fears a bit too early, if GM’s fate is any indicator.

    Bad News Bears Go to Japan (1978) – The always-annoying Bears go to Japan to play an exhibition game at the urging of a scheister TV producer, and literally everyone ends up getting ticked off in the process, especially the audience. Recoil in horror as a 13-year-old “bad boy” (signified by a peach-fuzz mustache IIRC) Bear creepily stalks and tries to force himself on an unsuspecting Japanese girl. It’s pure dreck, full of unapologetically racist and willfully ignorant sentiment, and almost unwatchable. Why do I recommend it, then? Because this is probably how your mom and dad see Japan. Redeeming quality: wrestling legend Antonio Inoki makes an appearance. Grunting, fuming Antonio Inoki, folks. His shtick hasn’t changed a bit in the almost 30 years since this movie was made.

    The Onion’s retarded anarcho-encyclopedic sister

    If you’re bored with facts, you should visit Uncyclopedia, a no-holds-barred parody of Wikipedia that ranges from hilarious to downright bizarre. Here is an excerpt from its most excellent entry on Japan:

    Lying on a fault line located on the shell of a huge turtle, Japan is vulnerable to many natural disasters, up to and including earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, tornadoes, avalanches and capitalism. The current capital city, Takeshi’s Castle, has been destroyed and rebuilt by giant robots no less than 3 times. In addition, because Japan is a nation full of sinners, they are also subject to a bevy of non-fault line related disasters, such as Crustacean Based Monster Attacks, meteorites, and bad dramas. God has also blighted the Japanese populace with reduced height and breast size, as per the Pope’s request (the incident arose when former Japanese Prime Number Junichiro Koizumi mistakenly ejaculated on the Virgin Mary. See also: Sticky Mary Debacle).

    Just about any topic worthy of jokes has been written up. Check out:

    ア・ミリオン・リトル・ピーシーズ Japan Version?

    I remember reading about this book when it first came out and I actually considered picking up a used copy.

    From Chris Kohler’s GameLife column at Wired:

    I just finished up reading Wrong About Japan, a travel memoir by novelist Peter Carey about a trip he took to Japan with his anime- and manga-obsessed son. It’s a short book, mixing the dubious results of Carey’s interviews with anime directors with the story of his ever-changing relationship with his oh-so-typically withdrawn and moody tween.

    As it turns out, most of the story was fiction.

    Carey told Seattle Weekly that the character Takashi, Charley’s similarly anime-obsessed Japanese friend, was invented. As the author put it, he “had to” make up a character to “get to” the conflict, which is what a phenomenally self-assured person says when they mean they “felt like” making up a character so they could “pretend there was” conflict.

    三島入門 (An Introduction to Mishima)


    I recently watched Paul Schrader’s 1985 film Mishima – A Life In Four Chapters. The film is a documentary style biographical portrayal of author Mishima Yukio’s final day, interwoven with three highly stylized vignettes of scenes from three of his works, and occasional explanatory flashbacks into Mishima’s past. Below is my brief review of the film, plus alpha.


    Seven out of ten stars. The concept and design of the film were unquestionably creative. Schrader took the stylization too far at times, but the exaggeration helped distinguish the vignettes from the main story line, as did filming the flashbacks in black and white. The transitions between the three were smooth enough, but could prove difficult to follow for viewers without any familiarity with Mishima. The connections drawn between specific experiences from Mishma’s life and their later distillation into major themes in his work was well done, and Schrader’s division of the film into four chapters – beauty, art, action, and harmony of pen and sword – further supported these themes.

    To Schrader’s credit he shot the entire film, dialogue and narration, in Japanese. The actors in the Kinkakuji vignette even spoke with heavy Kansai accents. No complaints with the score – Philip Glass has yet to disappoint with a documentary soundtrack. Acting generally must be Episode I, II or III execrable for me to take notice so Mishima passes muster. Casting was convincing enough, although Ogata Ken did not much resemble Mishima.

    The extra DVD commentary was informative – Schrader had clearly done his homework – and some of the tales about the trials undergone during filming are fascinating. (ex. Death threats from rightwingers lead to clandestine filming efforts and for a while Schrader, afraid of being stabbed, was even wearing a flak jacket. He was later informed by his Japanese crew that as a gaijin, he would not be a target because there was no way he could know better about his actions.)

    Sexuality, controversy, and politics

    Although nearly twenty years old, the full version of the film has yet to be released in Japan, largely because of a single scene in which Mishima is portrayed drinking and briefly dancing with a young man in a Tokyo gay bar. According to Schrader, he and his crew were initially given full cooperation by Mishima’s wife until he refused to remove said scene. They were also threatened with legal action (and presumably worse) if they depicted anything that could not be substantiated as true. Schrader was able to locate the young man and speak with him about the incident, so the scene could remain, but Mishima’s wife remained intransigent and never returned her support. Consequently, tthe film was not released in Japan at the time of its premier, and to this day the full version including the gay bar scene has yet to be released, distributed, or shown there.

    Mishima biographer and former friend Henry Scott Stokes, addressed some of the controversy surrounding Mishima’s sexuality, including the above incident, in his 1974 work, The Life and Death of Yukio Mishima. At the time of Mishima’s suicide in November at the Jietai Eastern Army HQ in Ichigaya, rumors began circulating that Mishima had been lovers with Morita Masakatsu, who killed himself immediately Mishima.

    The weeklies ran with these rumors and portrayed the incident as shinju, a double lover’s suicide. In spite of frequent homosexual themes in Mishima’s writings, including the autobiographical Confessions of a Mask, the truth of the matter has yet to be openly proven and probably never will be.

    But what is most interesting about the shinju theory is something Stokes wrote in the 1999 epilogue of the book:

    Years later I realized that the police, like all officials, were happy to see the homosexual shinju theory enlarge, thereby distracting the press form the politics of the Mishima incident.*

    The politics of which he speaks are Mishima’s militant (and I mean this literally—the guy had his own “army”) right-wing leanings, but more importantly the support he received from prominent members of the LDP, including then Prime Minister Sato, then Defense Minister Nakasone Yasuhiro, and then Chief Cabinet Secretary Hori Shigeru. These three men possibly helped finance Mishima’s private army, the Tatenokai, and certainly arranged for them to train with and use SDF facilities for training. But, much like the shinju theory, the truth of this matter, including the full extent of the LDP’s involvement with Mishima, will likely never be known.

    A bit of Mishima trivia

    I also happened across an interesting nugget of trivia in Stokes book. When Mishima was in his early thirties his mother was (incorrectly) diagnosed with terminal cancer. Fearing that she would die without having seen her son married, he arranged to meet a wife through omiai. Although Mishima eventually settled on the young daughter of a traditional painter, his first meeting was with one Shoda Michiko. A job at Kunaicho awaits anyone who recognized that name without having to look.

    Read Mishima’s famous short story “Patriotism” online.

    (Note: Above quote taken from pg. 269 of Henry Scott Stokes. The Life and Death of Yukio Mishima. Cooper Square Press, NY. 2000.)

    Japanese vs US Blogs

    High praise from Curzon at Coming Anarchy:

    Educational and entertaining in one healthy dose, [Mutant Frog Travelogue is] probably the best East Asian blog around.

    Thanks, I think we’re pretty great too! But that made me wonder — what do other East Asian blogs look like? What about, just for example, the highest ranked Japanese blogs on Technorati?

    (Note about Technorati from their About section: “Technorati displays what’s important in the blogosphere — which bloggers are commanding attention, what ideas are rising in prominence, and the speed at which these conversations are taking place.” Hence, these rankings are a measure of what people with blogs are linking to, not the number of page views, influence, revenue, or any other factor (as far as I can tell))

    For starters, let’s see what’s out there. Here’s a quick rundown of the top ten blogs in Japan and the US/English-speaking world (for comparison):

    Japanese blogs:

    1. がんばれ、生協の白石さん! “Fight on, Shiraishi of the Co-op!”

    This is the blog of a Mr. Shiraishi, “very very average” employee of the Co-op (student cooperative/school store) at Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology. Shiraishi gained fame for being the writer of responses to comment cards that students would write to him. The comment cards are a well-known phenomenon at Japanese universities as the answer are often posted outside the Co-ops on a bulletin board. He differs from other such Co-op employees in that he actually answers the stupid joke comments that he gets rather than giving them a quiet death in the round file. For some reason this has become majorly popular in Japan, probably because college students throughout the country have wondered just what kind of weirdos answer their comments.

    Latest post: Too much Mah-jongg!


    Question: I am suffering from a lack of sleep from too much mah-jongg. I’d like to go to class, so what can I do?

    Answer: Make an effort not to play mah-jongg too much! If you keep on like this, I think you’ll end up crying in public. Your free time only exists because you are studying and researching, so switch over from mah-jongg and do your best!

    OK, this at least has some novelty value. I remember the comment board at Ritsumeikan answered my question why they stopped serving these awesome banana crepes (they’re a winter-only item).

    2. 眞鍋かをりのココだけの話 Kaori Manabe’s “Stories that don’t leave this room”

    Kaori Manabe is a popular (not to mention beautiful) model/actress/all-around talent, perhaps best known outside Japan for her role in the 2001 film Waterboys. Her blog has gained fame for its frequent updates, endless blathering on trivial topics, and plentiful photos of Manabe-chan.

    Latest post: A Friendly Fire Festival

    Inanity abounds:

    There’s a very strange person called Mr. A that I see all the time on location.

    Is he an airhead? Well, he’s more of a socially inept ‘go my own way’ type of guy. H

    His special feature is to make statements that surprise people without meaning to at all.

    His hobbies are playing the horses and movies (mostly thrillers).

    His private life is shrouded in mystery (but he absolutely does not have a girlfriend).

    Continue reading Japanese vs US Blogs