Warren Buffett Hates Japanese Food

From TNR, concerning Warren Buffett:

He confines himself to the diet of an eight-year-old, refusing to eat anything much beyond spaghetti, hamburgers, and grilled cheese sandwiches. Schroeder describes a bizarre scene in which Katherine Graham escorted Buffett to dinner at the Manhattan apartment of Sony Chairman Akio Morita. Japanese chefs served plate after plate that Buffett left completely untouched. “By the end of fifteen courses, he still had not eaten a bite,” writes Schroeder. “The Moritas could not have been more polite, which added to his humiliation. He was desperate to escape back to Kay’s apartment, where popcorn and peanuts and strawberry ice cream awaited him. ‘It was the worst,’ he says about the meal he did not eat. ‘I’ve had others like it but it was by far the worst. I will never eat Japanese food again.’

Despite that pretty atrocious diet, Buffett appears to be relatively healyh at age 78. Maybe it’s due to his polygamous lifestyle.

The origins of Nanaca Crash

One of our more popular posts continues to be Roy’s link back in 2005 to addictive flash game “Nanaca Crash” in which you try to control how far a young man bounces after being run into by an anime Japanese schoolgirl on a bicycle. Give it a try!

Four years later, I am only now learning of the game’s hentai origins:

Cross Channel (officially spelled CROSS†CHANNEL) is an eroge for the Windows and PlayStation 2 platforms. The Windows version was released on September 26, 2003, and the PS2 version (CROSS†CHANNEL~to all people~) on March 18, 2004.


Gunjo Gakuen (Deep Blue School) is a facility designed to gather and isolate those students who got a high score on an adaptation exam (Scoring high on this exam indicates that the student is less likely to be able to be adapted to the society) mandated by the government.

After a failed summer vacation with other members of the school’s broadcasting club, Taichi Kurosu and some of the other club members return to the city, only to find that all living creatures within it except for the club members have completely vanished. In order to confirm the status of the outside world, Taichi decides to gather other club members to help Misato Miyasumi, the president of the broadcasting club, who is trying to set up a broadcasting antenna to contact any possible survivors. However, Taichi soon discovers that the world is actually repeating the week after they found the others vanished…

Nanaca Crash!! (officially spelled NANACA†CRASH!!) is an online spin off game featuring characters from Cross Channel. The object of the game is to click, hold and release the mouse button to determine the angle and velocity of Nanaka crashing her bicycle towards Taichi, sending him flying across the screen. Your score is determined by the distance of his flight. Certain characters he crashes into will greatly affect his velocity.

Gay politics in Taiwan vs. Japan

I had been vaguely aware that gays are more open in Taiwan than in Japan (more active gay pride festival, spotting a very cleary labeled gay bookstore near Taiwan University), but hadn’t consciously realized quite how different things are before reading this article from yesterday’s Taipei Times.

Gay rights activists yesterday announced that they would form a voting bloc to support gay-friendly candidates in the upcoming legislative by-election in Taipei City’s Da-an District (大安).

“We’ve had six gay pride parades in Taipei in the past six years and more than 18,000 people took part in last year’s event — that’s where the voters are,” chief coordinator of last year’s gay pride parade, Lee Ming-chao (李明照), told a news conference.

“In the process of mobilizing the gay and lesbian community in Taipei, we estimated that around 10 percent of voters in Da-an District are gay — including myself. We can surely become a deciding minority if we stand together.”

He predicted that the turnout for the by-election would be lower than the 60.47 percent for last year’s legislative election.

This whole concept seems to me utterly inconceivable in Japan. While there is not much in the way of active discrimination against gays in Japan (like there is in most Muslim countries and some Christian ones, even including much of the US until recently) I get the impression that homosexuality and related issues are still generally more taboo here than anywhere else in all of East and Southeast Asia. Yes, there is a transgender politician in Tokyo, but Kamikawa Aya is said to be the only openly LGBT politician in the entire country of over 120 million people. Compared with Taipei’s apparently increasingly popular gay pride parade, Tokyo’s has been cancelled for this year due to lack of interest/resources.

IIjima Ai’s meaning to Taiwan

The mysterious death of former porn-star turned memoir author and TV celebrity IIjima Ai has been big news in Japan. I wouldn’t normally mention something like this due to lack of really caring much, but I was alerted to a rather interesting twist in a comment by Taiwanese TV Journalist Michella Jade Weng at Michael Turton’s blog. Weng linked to an a Mainichi article explaining that IIjima’s death has been unusually big news in Taiwan for a surprising and fascinating reason. I’ll give a translation of most of the article below.

Due to the import of adult videos starring Ms. IIjima in the early 90s when Taiwan was democratization and the opening of society were proceeding, Ms. Iijima became a “symbol” of freedom of expression and culture. The [December] 25th edition of China Times, one of Taiwan’s big four newspapers, had a front page article above the fold article which, along with showing a photograph of Ms. Iijima, stated that Iijima Ai “became the common shared sexual dream of Taiwanese men born in the 1960s to 1970s.”

Note that China Times now has a special feature section on their website, under the amusing folder name of “sexgirl.” UDN, another of the big four papers, also put together a special feature on Ms. Iijima, describing her as “a memory of all the men of Asia.”

Assistant Editor of China Times, Zhang Jing-wei, explained this treatment by saying “The period when Ms. Iijima was active overlapped with the period when Taiwanese politics and society were opened up. We were not trying to be funny at all, and decided that Ms. Iijima’s death has social significance.”

In 1987, Taiwan’s 38 year period of marital law ended, and restrictions on cultural expression such as newspaper publication and songs were lifted. The Japanese adult videos that began pouring into Taiwan in the 1990s were considered a symbol of social liberalization.

Weng also reports that her editor explained it in more direct terms. “In addition, she was the common link between nearly all men born in the 60’s and 70’s, because almost all of them hid in their bedroom and watched her videos at one point or another.” Including her editor.

Best poll ever?

Friday, December 26, 2008
Teens Skipping Breakfast Tend To Have Sex Earlier In Life: Poll
TOKYO (Kyodo)–A recent national poll of around 1,500 people has shown that those who skipped breakfast in their early teens first had sexual intercourse at an average age of 17.5 years, earlier than 19.4 for those who had breakfast every day and an average 19 for all those polled, according to a health ministry study panel.

Children of Darkness

On Saturday, I went with a friend of mine to see the “Children of the Dark“(闇の子供たち) , a new film by Japanese director Sakamoto Junji primarily about child prostitution in Thailand. The story is primarily told through the perspective of the two Japanese main characters, a reporter for Bangkok bureau of the fictional Japan Times (no relation to the actual English language Japan times, but more of a pastiche of the Asahi or Mainichi. I believe the Mainichi was thanked in the credits) named Nambu, and a Japanese college student named Keiko, who is volunteering at a tiny Bangkok NGO. Secondary characters include Nambu’s mildly irritating 20-something Japanese backpacker/photographer sidekick, and a wide selection of Thai criminals, NGO workers, and abused children.

Except for a brief trip back to Japan around the middle of the film, it takes place entirely in Bangkok. The dialogue is mixed Thai and Japanese, probably with Thai dominating. Nambu speaks appropriately good Thai, as a foreign correspondent should (even if they don’t all), and Keiko speaks a bit haltingly, but according to the subtitles at least she seems to have no trouble expressing complex thoughts, or understanding what anyone says.

The central plot thread is your fairly typical “newsman uncovers a story and chases it ragged even at the risk of his own life” and makes sure to include a selection of the typical cliches, such as a back-alley gunpoint menacing in which none of the stars are harmed, despite a secondary Thai character having been shot in the head in another scene moments before or the photographer’s constant wavering between going home to safety in Japan or staying in Thailand to fight the good fight. At the beginning of the film, Nambu receives a tip that Thai children are being murdered so their organs can be transplanted into dying Japanese children. This is just one of the ways in which children become disposable in the film, but I felt like the addition of this imaginery (although certainly not impossible) scenario to the array of real horror detracted from the film’s effectiveness.

The primary goal of the film is the depiction of evils inflicted by adults on children, and there are a number of truly unpleasant scenes involving child prostitution by foreigners of both Western (American and European) and Japanese origin, as well horrendous mistreatment of the child slaves by their Thai captors. These sorts of terrible things happen all day long in many parts of the world, and it is understandable that the film makers wanted to depict it on screen, but I found the “deeper” messages to be more muddled than sophisticated.

Incidentally, the Japanese Wikipedia article on the film has a rather odd criticism I’d like to mention briefly. It mentions that Japanese blogs (2ch-kei foremost I imagine) have called it “an anti-Japanese film” since it “puts all of the blame for the selling of children in Thailand on the Japanese.” This claim is patently absurd. Of course a significant part of the film’s purpose IS to blame Japan predatory Japanese, but Western perverts are given at least as much of a spotlight in the brothel vignettes. And the Thai criminals who actually run the victimization business are hardly made out to be innocent bystanders.

For some reason I was mildly irritated by Keiko’s inexplicably competent Thai throughout the film, but it may simply have been the fact that I found the character generally pointless. When she first arrives at the NGO, one of the ladies working there asks her “Why did you come to Bangkok, isn’t there some good you can do in Japan?” While this question lingers throughout the film, and naturally Keiko does come to do some good in Bangkok, her motivations are never explored and her character acquires no depth. Why did she come to Thailand? Why is she even in this movie? She is tabula rasa- a standin for the audience, or rather for the way the film maker wants the audience to think. Her initial appearance suggested that she could have been an aspect of a message that I think the filmmakers were trying to convey-that Thailand (and presumably other countries like it, although no others are mentioned) are playgrounds for Japanese and Western neo-colonialists to act out their fantasies of either depravity or heroism without repercussion. However, despite this theme perhaps being touched on ever so briefly during her first  appearance, Keiko turns out to be nothing but an autonomic cliche of a young NGO volunteer.

I hope my ramblings do not give the impression that I hated the movie- I did not. I would, in fact, say that it was overall decent. But I did find it very disappointing. It starts well, and has a number of powerful scenes of horror and despair, but it is too long, the story is meandering and a bit cliched, and one of the leads is just dull to the point of no longer being annoying. Those with a particular interest in the problems this film addresses should see it, but wait for the DVD.

What the Diet’s been up to lately: revising the law of transgendered people

I’ve been looking at some of the bills passed by the Diet earlier this year, one of which amends a law which I should have known existed but had never seen before: the Act Regarding Special Provisions for the Treatment of the Gender of Persons With Gender Identity Disorder (性同一性障害者の性別の取扱いの特例に関する法律).

So now I can give a legal opinion on how to get a sex change in Japan. It’s a simple enough process to understand, although rather arbitrary. Here are the relevant provisions in full:

Article 2. Definitions

In this Act, “person with gender identity disorder” means a person who, despite having a clear biological gender, is persistently convinced that they are mentally of another gender (“other gender”), who has a desire to physically and socially conform themselves to the other gender, and with respect to whom two or more physicians having the knowledge and experience necessary to properly diagnose this [condition] have given corresponding diagnoses based on generally accepted medical viewpoints.

Article 3. Decision to Change Gender Treatment

A family court may decide to change the gender treatment of a person with gender identity disorder, upon that person’s request, who:
1. is twenty years of age or older;
2. is not presently married;
3. does not presently have children;
4. does not have reproductive glands or has permanently lost the function of the reproductive glands; and
5. has adopted a bodily appearance which closely resembles that of the other gender in the area of the genital organs.

The law also amended the family registration laws to allow a person who has undergone a legal sex change to have a new koseki issued reflecting their new sex.

The new amendment changes item 3 of Article 3 to read “does not presently have minor children.” It was apparently pushed by the DPJ and JCP with the LDP staying completely mum on the issue (per Yahoo Minna no Seiji). The bill passed nonetheless and is effective December 18 of this year.

Incidentally, since we haven’t mentioned it on Mutantfrog yet, Japan happens to have one of the few transgendered elected officials in the world: Setagaya city councilwoman Aya Kamikawa. Kamikawa was first elected in 2003, a year before the transgender statute was passed; while she was legally male at that time, she purportedly refused to fill in her gender on the candidate application form, and thus appeared on the ballot as genderless. She completed the family court process in 2005 and is now legally female. (I am an Aya fan, if only because she has a comical domain name and an equally comical physical resemblance to Ann Coulter.)

Clothing and nekkidness in the Meiji era

I am fascinated by this lengthy narrative of how Japan evolved from a nation where “scant clothing… was mainly an indication of manual labor” to one where “virtually all Japanese wear underwear.” (Warning: Most links in the article lead to old pictures of naked people which are likely to cause problems if viewed at the office.)

It’s an interesting story, not so much because of the scandalous bits (e.g. foreign journalists developing unhealthy fascinations with the neighborhood mixed-gender bathhouse), but also because of the government’s role in forcing these changes on the public as part of the general campaign to make Japan more European.

It isn’t too hard to see how this also helped usher in the current era of WaiWai and pornographic comic books. Standardizing fashion in a modest manner undoubtedly did wonders for the democratization and modernization of Japan, but it also seems to have led to a lot of the sexual repression that generates train groping and hidden camera fetishes today. (Not that I’m complaining: loincloths aren’t my style.)

By the way, there is a wealth of artificially-colorized old Japanese photographs available on Flickr courtesy of one “Okinawa Soba.” Among my favorites:

Who knew Bhutan could be so kinky?

While reading about Asia’s newest self-proclaimed democracy I did a double-take at the following factoid:

Bhutan’s first democratically elected prime minister will be Jigmi Thinlay, a charismatic politician who has portrayed the DPT as the party of ordinary Bhutanese. His rival, Sangay Ngedup, leader of the rival People’s Democratic Party (PDP), is the brother of the previous king’s four wives, all sisters.

(Note to readers: I know my last couple of posts have been frivolous. Many apologies. This stuff is just too amusing not to blog.)

Raelians in unexpected places

You may remember I posted a few months ago about the highly curious billboard by Nagoya’s central train station sponsored by the alien/free-love Raelian movement. They do pop up in odd places. I was looking through Wired magazine’s gallery of photos from Japan’s “Adult Treasure Expo” and noticed this somewhat curious photograph, accompanied by rather more curious text.

Clitoraid is an non-profit organization set up by the Raelian Movement to help women around the world who have suffered genital mutilation. The Raelians promote an “adopt a clitoris” campaign and claim to facilitate surgical clitoris reconstruction. The woman on the right of the photo is wearing a clitoris costume.

Genital mutilation doesn’t seem to be a big issue in Japan, and the Realians’ adoption of the issue is a mystery. There are several serious nonprofits around the world trying to stop genital mutilation. The Raelians are best known for claiming to have cloned the first human baby, without offering proof.

If you look at Clitoraid’s web site, you can find the following text:

 Following the announcement made by Dr Foldes, OBGYN in France, stating that women and children of all ages who have suffered the atrocities of clitoral excision, or female genital mutilation the equivalent of male castration in its barbarity, now have the possibility to regain sexual pleasure and be whole once again, thanks to medical advances and scientific progress. Rael, the spiritual leader of the Raelian Movement decided to help as many women as possible to regain their sense of pleasure and founded Clitoraid, a private non-profit organization with the aim to sponsor those women who want to have their clitoris rebuilt.

Considering the huge number of Burkinabe women who are candidates to be operated on and as Clitoraid received offer from a few doctors to travel to Bobo Dioulasso and help rebuild the clitoris of all the circumcised women, the Prophet Rael declared: “Instead of using Clitoraid’s collected money to operate on just a few women, we should create the first Raelian Hospital, the “Pleasure Hospital”, and operate on all African women, for free, with the help of Raelian or non-Raelian benevolent doctor”.

While offering medical aid to victims of genital mutilation is certainly a laudable goal, I am slightly disturbed that the motivation is because their space alien-inspired prophet told them to. Then again, how is this really different from any other religion?