Dr. ARUDOU, Debito's Home Page

From Debito's doctoral research:

Embedded Racism: Japan's Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination

  • Embedded Racism: Japan's Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination
  • (Lexington Books, Rowman & Littlefield HB 2015, PB 2016)

    Click on book cover for reviews, previews, and 30% discount direct from publisher. Available in hardcover, paperback, and Kindle eBook on

  • Book IN APPROPRIATE: A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan
  • Archive for the 'Humor' Category

    Things that will raise a chuckle, so you don’t think I’m just a curmudgeon brooding away in my bunker.

    My Japan Times JBC column 101: “US and Japan votes: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” (Oct 3, 2016)

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 2nd October 2016

    JBC: I love elections. Anywhere. It’s fascinating to see how politicians craft public appeals. No matter how flawed the process, it’s how nation-states recharge their legitimacy and publicly reaffirm their mandate to govern.

    During this season of the world’s most-watched presidential campaign, JBC will assess “the good, the bad, and the ugly” of how the United States and Japan run their elections. […] I want to talk about the expression of political culture and momentum that has grown from generations of campaigning, and how it brings out the “good” (things that are healthy for a representative democracy), the “bad” (things that aren’t), and the “ugly” (the just plain ludicrous)…

    Read the rest in the Japan Times at

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Cultural Issue, History, Humor, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Media, Tangents | No Comments »

    Kickstarter: “Go! Go! Second Time Gaijin” a mockumentary film by Primolandia Productions starring Debito Arudou

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 2nd June 2016

    The story: “Go! Go! Second Time Gaijin” is a mockumentary that focuses on a Caucasian expat living in Japan who, after receiving a blow to the head, wakes up believing that he is a member of an ultranationalist right wing group (the “uyoku dantai”). An idealistic amateur “director” (in the scheme of the mockumentary) is making a documentary film about this odd character because he believes that it will propel his own filmmaking career towards prominence. As the director and his subject’s views begin to diverge though, things begin to fall apart. “Go! Go! Second Time Gaijin” is a story about identity, delusion, myopic nationalism, ascendent conservative trends in Japan’s current government, other big words, and how those beliefs do not accurately reflect the political and social reality of Japanese society. Only the best ingredients for a controversial comedy. Starring Debito Arudou. Kickstarter funding support page link enclosed.

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Humor, Japanese Politics, Media, Shoe on the Other Foot Dept. | 4 Comments »

    Tangent: NYT Op-Ed: Foreigners Are Attacking … American TV, within US TV programs. Contrast with Japan.

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 14th May 2015

    In my previous blog entry, I mentioned the disenfranchisement of foreigners from Japanese media, and my upcoming book (out in November) will discuss further the effects of that in terms of tolerance of difference and counteracting public defamation. As a Tangent, let’s contrast this with the degree of access that foreigners in America have to influence the domestic narrative and talking points. I don’t know how unusual this is on a country-to-country scale ( Readers are welcome to mention the foreign anchors/pundits holding court outside the US and Japan), but given the influence that American media has worldwide, this is not a small matter. The NYT does a survey:

    NYT: American late-night television shows have probably never had so many anchors with foreign accents as they will have soon. Trevor Noah, a South African comedian, will become at least the third non-American native to host a popular TV comedy show later this year when he takes over “The Daily Show” from Jon Stewart. He will join two Britons, John Oliver of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” and James Corden, who recently started hosting “The Late Late Show” on CBS.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Humor, Immigration & Assimilation, Media, NJ voices ignored, discounted & discredited, Tangents | 7 Comments »

    My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 72: “Don’t let ANA off the hook for that offensive ad”, Jan 25, 2014, “Director’s Cut”

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 24th January 2014

    Only a few days into the case of racialized advertisement from ANA, I got tapped by the Japan Times to cover it. Readers and Facebook Friends certainly gave me plenty of food for thought, so thank you all very much. Here’s my more polished opinion on it, which stayed the number one article on the JT Online for two full days! What follows is the “Director’s Cut” with excised paragraphs and links to sources. Conclusion:

    Look, Japan, if you want to host international events (such as an Olympics), or to have increased contact with the outside world, you’ll face increased international scrutiny of your attitudes under global standards. For one of Japan’s most international companies to reaffirm a narrative that Japanese must change their race to become more “global” is a horrible misstep. ANA showed a distinct disregard for their Non-Japanese customers—those who are “Western,” yes, but especially those who are “Asian.”

    Only when Japan’s business leaders (and feudalistic advertisers) see NJ as a credible customer base they could lose due to inconsiderate behavior, there will be no change in marketing strategies. NJ should vote with their feet and not encourage this with passive silence, or by double-guessing the true intentions behind racially-grounded messages. This is a prime opportunity. Don’t let ANA off the hook on this. Otherwise the narrative of foreigner = “big-nosed blonde that can be made fun of” without turnabout, will ensure that Japan’s racialized commodification will be a perpetual game of “whack-a-mole.”

    Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Articles & Publications, Bad Business Practices, Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Education, Good News, Humor, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment, Racist Images in Media, Shoe on the Other Foot Dept., Tourism | 35 Comments »

    ZakSPA!: “Laughable” stories about “Halfs” in Japan, complete with racialized illustration

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 16th October 2012 Reader CJ submits the following ZakSPA! page talking about Japan’s genetic internationalization in tabloid style: How “funny” it is to be a “half.” Reading through the articles (enclosed below), I’m of two minds about this. On one hand, it’s good to have the media acknowledging that there are Japanese kids of diverse roots and experiences out there, with some tone of saying how silly it all is that so many people get treated in stereotypical ways (with a “roundtable of halfs” at the end giving their own views on the situation). On the other hand, the level of discourse gets pretty low (“some foreigner talked to me in Narita Airport in English and it was so frightening I felt like crying”), and an opportunity to actually address a serious issue of how Japan has changed is wasted on parts laughing, parts crybabying, parts confirmation that treating people as “different” because they look “different” is a natural, if not inevitable, part of life in Japan. I’ll let Readers read for themselves and decide whether this important topic is being broached properly.

    Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Discussions, Humor, Immigration & Assimilation, Media, 日本語 | 29 Comments »

    Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 54 Aug 7, 2012: “For nikkei immigrants in Japan, it doesn’t have to be a bug’s life”

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 9th August 2012

    With apologies to Franz Kafka: As Beto awoke one morning from uneasy dreams, he found himself transformed in his futon into a gigantic cockroach.

    “What’s happened to me?” he thought. In his native land down south, he had been a person — if at times underprivileged due to his nikkei status. So, years ago, he “repatriated” to Japan, attracted by promises of better milk and honey. Yet now he felt even more marginalized by the locals here, who called themselves “people” yet treated him at times like he was an insect.

    Beto scurried off to work, where people shied away and refused to sit by him in the train cars. But as the end of the line approached, the coach filled up with fellow cockroaches, and people stopped paying attention.

    The people at his factory also took no notice of his metamorphosis. His supervisors were used to dealing with cockroaches. Bugs seemed an inevitable part of lower-rent circumstances. As in the train, it seemed some people had learned to “co-exist” with them in close quarters.

    In public, however, reactions were different. Alone, Beto was often seen as something exotic, maybe even collectable if there was a curious person flitting about who was interested in “speaking bug.” But if seen as part of a swarm, people’s knee-jerk reactions were to take steps against them. Bugs might overrun the place, making it feel less the realm of the masters, more of the roaches…

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Humor, Immigration & Assimilation, Labor issues, NJ voices ignored, discounted & discredited | 12 Comments »

    Mainichi: JHS teacher arrested for defrauding insurance companies by repeatedly claiming his luggage was stolen by foreigners!

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 7th April 2012

    Chalk this one up to the idiocracy that springs up whenever unquestioned hegemonic discourse (i.e., “foreigners commit crime”) in a society leads to too much giving the benefit of the doubt. We have some Japanese guy (a junior high school teacher, no less) repeatedly “losing” his luggage while traveling and then successfully getting insurance paid out on it due to claims of “thefts by foreigners”. (The idiot did it with enough frequency that cops became suspicious because they remembered his claims.)

    Frauds and blaming foreigners are nothing new. I wrote a whole Japan Times column in 2007 on how foreigners have been targets of a “Blame Game” for many years now. But often it goes beyond comical. We have a trucker in 2004 who overslept his appointment and then formally blamed it on being kidnapped by foreigners. We have a bosozoku biker gang that same year who killed somebody and tried to blame it on a foreign gang. And we have murder suspects in 2006 who tried to blame a homicide on a lurking “blond man” (in a city with very few foreigners to boot).

    Clearly the “foreign crime wave” which was fabricated by Tokyo Gov. Ishihara from 2000 has cast a long shadow. As submitter Becky says, “No wonder they get microaggressive, look at all the crime we commit!”

    Posted in Humor, Injustice, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese police/Foreign crime | 16 Comments »

    My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column #48: “These are a few of my favorite things about Japan”, Feb. 7, 2012

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 8th February 2012

    JT: The Just Be Cause column has been running now for four years (thanks for reading!), and I’ve noticed something peculiar: how commentators are pressured to say “nice” stuff about Japan.

    If you don’t, you get criticized for an apparent “lack of balance.” As if one has to pay homage to the gods of cultural relativism (as an outsider) or tribal commonalities (as an insider).

    This pressure isn’t found in every society. Britain, for example, has a media tradition (as far back as Jonathan Swift, William Hogarth and George Cruikshank) where critics can be unapologetically critical, even savage, towards authority (for example, Private Eye magazine).

    But in Japan, where satire is shallow and sarcasm isn’t a means of social analysis, we are compelled to blunt our critique with pat niceties. Our media spends more time reporting nice, safe things (like how to cook and eat) than encouraging critical thinking.

    Likewise, Just Be Cause gets comments of the “If Debito hates Japan so much, why does the JT keep publishing him?” ilk. As if nobody ever criticizes Japan out of love (if we critics didn’t care about this place, we wouldn’t bother).

    Moreover, why must we say something nice about a place that hasn’t been all that nice to its residents over the past, oh, two stagnant decades (even more so since Fukushima)? Japan, like everywhere else, has problems that warrant attention, and this column is trying to address some of them.

    Still, as thanks to the readership (and my editor, constantly put off his beer defending me in bars), I’ll succumb and say something nice about Japan for a change. In fact, I’ll give not one, but 10 reasons why I like Japan:

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Cultural Issue, Discussions, Good News, Humor | 10 Comments »

    End-year Irony #2: Japanese cast as Roman in “Thermae Romae” despite J complaints about Chinese cast as Japanese in “Memoirs of a Geisha”

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 31st December 2011

    Here’s another bit of irony from Japanland. It’s quite petty, so I kept it as a year-end frivolous tangent: Japanese movies can cast Japanese as NJ, but NJ movies cannot cast NJ as Japanese. Works like this:

    JDG: [According to Japan Probe, live-action movie THERMAE ROMAE] casts a Japanese as a Roman]. I thought that it was a bit rich to cast a Japanese guy as an Italian, considering the outcry in Japan when when a Chinese actress starred in the film adaptation of MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA, the showing of which was even banned by some theaters in Japan on that basis! It’s a double standard.

    COMMENT: There is likewise a long history in Hollywood to cast Asians fungibly — Chinese cast as Japanese in WWII propagandistic movies, some quite odd ethnic Japanese cast as “real” Japanese or even other Orientals (e.g., Mako, Gedde Watanabe), etc., etc., and that’s before we get to the outright racial stereotyping done in period-piece embarrassments such as Mickey Rooney’s Mr Yunioshi in BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S. Doesn’t take much to dig up the same phenomenon anywhere in world cinema.

    But this is becoming unforgivable in this time of greater globalization, migration, immigration, and general ability to research, travel, and understand different people. People in the media should be trying harder. And they certainly are not in the THERMAE example. Nor were they in SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO (2010) — the live-adaptation of the manga and anime starring Kimura Takuya, in which the whole human galaxy is exclusively Japanese! (according to the IMDB full cast list) Even the STAR TREK crew casting did a bit better than that way back in the mid-1960’s! (Incidentally, I love how again-fungible-Asian Mr. Sulu is translated into “Mr. Katou” for the Japanese audience… But I digress. Then again, at least the cast is diverse enough to allow for that.)

    I’m no doubt opening a can of worms (I can hardly wait until someone brings up the deliberate cultural insensitivities of BORAT…), but let’s end the year on a relatively frivolous note, since 2011 was probably the worst year on record for Japan and its residents in my lifetime. More on that in my upcoming Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column, out on Tuesday, January 3, 2012.

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Discussions, Humor, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Media, Tangents | 33 Comments »

    Weekend Tangent: Saturday Night Live skit on Japan-obsessed American youth; scarily accurate?

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 22nd October 2011

    As a Weekend Tangent, here’s Saturday Night Live poking fun at American kids obsessed with J-pop culture. I found it very funny, and from what I’ve heard it’s scarily accurate (although I wouldn’t know — been out of the US for too long). What do you think?

    UPDATE: Just found a Russian server playing it outside of the U.S. without proxies. Try here:

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Humor, Media, Tangents | 25 Comments »

    Japan Times guest column: “Top 10 most useless Japanese Prime Ministers” (I contribute Murayama)

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 27th September 2011

    I was invited last week to contribute a bio of who I thought was one of Japan’s “most useless” Prime Ministers. I was surprised to find that Murayama was not taken. So here’s my writeup (#5, ordered by when they held office). There are nine other biographies done by some very knowledgable writers and observers of Japan, so have a read of them at the Japan Times from this link here. Enjoy!

    JT: Short tenures, imprudent public statements, poor character judgment, weakness under pressure — when we think of useless prime ministers, all this seems like standard operating procedure. However, Tomiichi Murayama’s particular brand of uselessness was peerless. Essentially, everything he touched turned to sh-te…

    He was the first Socialist Party prime minister, and the last. Having made a Faustian bargain to take the top job, he then proceeded to sell his party’s soul so blatantly that in his wake the Socialists were moribund and fractured. He proved to Japan’s voters that the left cannot govern, putting the corrupt Liberal Democrats back in power for 13 more years.

    No other PM can be credited with setting back Japan’s development into a two-party democracy while killing his own party in the process. Yet. For that, he gets my vote not only as Japan’s most useless, but also its flat-out worst postwar prime minister.

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Humor, Japanese Politics, Tangents, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 17 Comments »

    Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column: “Charisma Men, unite against the identity enforcers”

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 1st March 2011

    There is one aspect of the “Charisma Man” phenomenon that is little talked about: what I will call “Immigrant vs. Identity Police.” Let’s take Charisma Man’s side in this column, and suggest why he too might have been given a bum rap.

    Charisma Man is initially a tragic figure. He’s stuck in a dead-end job “back home” and derided for being a dud. His predicament might be his fault (due to a lack of education or motivation) or might not be (due to a lack of economic opportunity in his neighborhood). But either way, he’s depicted as a loser.

    So he comes to Japan and is again stuck in a dead-end job. But this time he winds up being a “winner” in some respects. He is finally getting something always denied: a modicum of respect. Earned or not, respect can be transformational in a person’s development. Charisma Man remakes his identity.

    However, then come the Identity Police, be it the reader or the (rather offensive stereotype of) Western Woman. They’re trying to force Charisma Man back to the predestination of failure. That’s unfortunate…

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Cultural Issue, Education, Humor, Immigration & Assimilation, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 14 Comments »

    Weekend Tangent: BBC show QI gets scolded by J media and embassy for insensitivity re atomic bombings

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 22nd January 2011

    As a Weekend Tangent (for the record, I have no particular stance on this issue), here’s another bit following yesterday’s about official GOJ reactions to overseas media: The BBC One show QI and its segment on the “unluckiest (or luckiest, depending on how you look at it) man in the world”: a survivor of two atomic bombings who died recently at the age of 93. It has engendered much criticism from the J media and cyberspace. Here’s a comment from Reader JS:

    “For the record, QI is a general knowledge quiz show with liberal doses of humour (points are awarded not for being correct, but for being “quite interesting”). They were actually quite complimentary about Yamaguchi and the Japanese resolve in the face of adversity, but apparently it was enough to merit a formal complaint and prime-time news coverage. Oh, and apparently Yamaguchi used to call himself “the unluckiest man in the world”, and he and his family laughed about it. I would say, as a Brit, that they’re laughing at the irony of the situation, not at Yamaguchi personally.”

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Discussions, Humor, Japanese Government, Media, Tangents, 日本語 | 38 Comments »

    Japan Times satirical piece on Gunma Isesaki bureaucrat beard ban

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 4th June 2010

    Jay Klaphake: I would like to draw readers’ attention to the outstanding work of the municipal government of Isesaki, Gunma Prefecture. After receiving complaints that citizens find bearded men unpleasant, Isesaki — just as all levels of Japanese government often do — took decisive action to address an important public concern: The city announced a ban on beards for municipal workers…

    Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara has been quick to point to surveys that show government workers with beards are more likely to be supporters of voting rights for non-Japanese residents than clean-shaven employees. Excessive facial hair could even be used to mask an individual’s foreign roots, meaning that many of the hirsute could be naturalized citizens or children of naturalized citizens…

    A legal defense committee led by human-rights advocate Debito Arudou (of course he has a beard) and law professor Colin P. A. Jones is looking into whether Isesaki used off-budget secret funds to operate a barbershop in the basement of City Hall and provided free haircuts and shaves to public employees. Arudou reportedly tried to enter the barbershop but was refused access because his beard didn’t look Japanese, even though he insisted that his beard did, in fact, become Japanese several years ago.

    Professor Jones has apparently filed a freedom of information request for documents detailing whether, and how much of, taxpayers’ money was used for the secret project. In response, the city said that no such documents could be found, no such barbershop exists, and furthermore it would be a violation of the privacy of the barber to say anything more…

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Humor, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Labor issues | 14 Comments »

    Holiday Tangent: “Lifer” cartoon on “Things to do in a Wintry Hokkaido”, Happy May

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 2nd May 2010

    Here’s a holiday tangent: Things to do during a Hokkaido Winter, by “Lifer”. Published in Sapporo Source last January (forgot to blog). Since the seasons finally flipped yesterday in Hokkaido (we went from a crappy April to a warmer and sunny May at noon yesterday, like clockwork), we are now officially as far away from Winter as possible. In commemoration, have a chuckle.

    Posted in Humor, Tangents | 1 Comment »

    Japan Times: Arudou Debito gives up on activism due to poverty

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 1st April 2010

    (Sapporo) April 1: Activist Debito Arudou announced in a press conference today that he will be hanging up his gloves and quitting activism.

    “It sucks to support the tired, the poor, and the huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” Debito was quoted as saying. “I’m tired of being a poor, huddling mass breathing for free.”

    Debito claimed dire poverty. “Money (that’s what I want),” he said, citing the Beatles.

    “From now on, I’m going to be a Japanese government shill, representing our incorruptible, self-sacrificing, and endearing bureaucrats as a bridge to explain our country’s noble and altruistic motives to the rest of the world. We are unique, after all. That line pays better.”

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Humor, Ironies & Hypocrisies | 24 Comments »


    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 31st December 2009


    ちなみに、メインキャラクターの「トニーラズロ」(Tony Laszlo)の描写と実物のことは色々違いがあるように気をしてならなりません。なので、このマンガはパロディーとして載せさせていただきたいと思います。どうぞ宜しくお願い致します。良いお年を!

    Posted in Humor, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Laszlo, Media, 日本語 | No Comments »

    Oguri’s “Darling wa Gaikokujin” becomes a movie, with parody cartoon about the “Darling Dream” being sold by all this

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 31st December 2009

    I want to offer my congratulations to Oguri Saori, very successful author of the “Darling wa Gaikokujin” series (translated as “My Darling is a Foreigner”, but officially subtitled “My Darling is Ambidextrous”), for the news just out this month that the first book in the series will be made into a live-action movie (starring Inoue Mao and Jonathan Share as Saori and Tonii respectively). The empire built upon the dream being sold to Japanese women for marrying a white foreigner keeps on gathering strength.

    Although portrayed in the movie by the very handsome and disarming Jonathan as a “grass-eating man”, Tonii in real life is not as he is cartooned. Laszlo is a big fan of putting his funds into threatening lawsuits, for one thing. And of deleting internet archives. And more. It just so happens I found a cartoon parodying this phenomenon of the contrasts. As the last post on for this decade, enjoy.

    Posted in Humor, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Laszlo, Lawsuits, Media, 日本語 | 13 Comments »

    Merry Xmas: LIFER! cartoon on “End-Year Holiday Activities in Japan”

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 24th December 2009

    For the holidays, here’s a timely cartoon by Lifer from the December 2009 issue of Hokkaido Free Paper SAPPORO SOURCE. How to enjoy the end-year holidays in Japan, with a twist, as always.

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Humor, Tangents | 5 Comments »

    Sunday Tangent: SAPPORO SOURCE DEBITO Column on the power of humor and how it preserves sanity

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 1st November 2009

    Time for a Sunday Tangent. My latest tangental column in SAPPORO SOURCE — not on human rights, but on humor. And the power it has over us. Excerpt:

    Humor is a funny thing. Nobody can exactly define what a “joke” is, why something is “funny”, or how one develops or cultivates a “sense of humor”. But we all know its effects.

    Humor, as you know, causes that wonderful instant reaction where you lose control of yourself — and emit a smile if not a full-on loud laugh. The longer you laugh, the better you feel. It is a catharsis.

    You can tell when somebody’s been under a lot of stress lately when they laugh long and loud even at the lamest joke. Why? Like a volcano erupting, laughter releases the toxins of stress that build up in this modern world.

    But it goes beyond that. Consider the power humor has over us…

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Humor, Tangents | 2 Comments »

    “Lifer” Cartoon in SAPPORO SOURCE: “Things to do in Hokkaido”

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 31st October 2009

    SAPPORO SOURCE, our city’s only free bilingual newspaper, has just this month started featuring cartoons by “Lifer”, a Sapporo resident who has enough time on his hands to scribble down some doodles. Here’s the first in the series, RANDOM HOKKAIDO COMIX, click on it to focus in your browser:

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Cultural Issue, Humor, Tangents | No Comments »

    Fallout from “The Cove”: TV’s “South Park” takes on Japan’s dolphin slaughters and whale hunts

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 31st October 2009

    This is making the rounds of the blogoverse. South Park takes on the Japanese dolphin culls and whale hunts, thanks to the publicity from “The Cove”. It’s worth seeing. As a South Park fan, I must say this is all within character for the show… and it as usual ties the issue up into large intellectual knots, and pushes the frontiers of “taboo humor”. Enjoy, I guess.

    Posted in Humor, Media, Shoe on the Other Foot Dept. | 5 Comments »

    Tangent: Wash Post’s Mensa invitational on coining new words and meanings

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 20th September 2009

    As a complete diversion on a Sunday, when it’s too nice to stay inside (and probably few are reading this due to the rare September 5-day weekend here in Japan), here is a tangent, sent me by James in Monbetsu. As an aficionado of words and word play (gotta be for my writing), got a big kick. And I’m happy to say that due to years of blogging, I’ve come up with the word “sarchasm” on my own:


    Here are the winners of this year’s Washington Post’s Mensa Invitational which once again asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition:

    1. *Cashtration* (n.)…

    Posted in Humor, Tangents | No Comments »

    LA Times: “Charisma Man: An American geek is reborn in Japan”

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 11th September 2009

    LA Times: From his window seat in the Roppongi bar district, Neil Garscadden eyes an exotic street parade: the reggae-styled hipsters, the Nigerian nightclub hawkers, the soft-stepping geishas, the secretaries in miniskirts and impossibly heavy eye shadow.

    The nuances of the scene, Garscadden insists, would be lost on a mere tourist.

    This, he says, is a job for Charisma Man.

    With his blue eyes, tousled blond hair and foreign passport, Charisma Man is a sake-sipping man about town, suavely negotiating the intricacies of Japanese culture. Women adore him. Men respect, even fear, him. Life in the East bends to his every whim.

    “It’s great to be a Western guy in Asia,” he says. “I’ve got lots of money, chicks dig me — everybody respects me.”

    Well, not everybody.

    In this land of anime, Charisma Man is a comic strip character created in 1998 by Larry Rodney, a Canadian then teaching English in Nagoya, to lampoon what he saw as the absurd hubris of many Western men in Japan. Capitalizing on their novelty status, they prowled for cheap thrills, an easy paycheck and sex — not necessarily in that order. Many were slackers posing as teachers (a job for which they were underqualified) to continue the charade of their low-wattage celebrity.

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Discussions, Humor, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 12 Comments »

    Aso Cabinet Email Mag: Aso explains himself away to the outside world as he asks for renewed power

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 20th July 2009

    Aso Cabinet Email Mag, on the eve of the dissolution of his administration:

    The responsibility of politics is none other than to safeguard people’s daily lives and to protect Japan.

    As I am in a position of responsibility, I must clarify the fiscal revenues for policies and the path to restore fiscal health in the long term. I must also show a clear diplomatic vision to protect the people. I will work together with the people to create a vision of the future of Japan.

    How do we balance the enhancement of the social security system, such as pensions, medical care, and nursing care, with the rebuilding of public finances? How do we work with the international community to address the North Korean issue, which threatens the security of Asia, and the piracy issue, and to fight against terrorism?

    For these difficult issues, I will listen to what the people have to say and dedicate myself to fulfilling my political responsibility to safeguard people’s daily lives and to protect Japan.

    Posted in Humor, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Politics, Tangents | 1 Comment »

    SAPPORO SOURCE July 2009, Column 2 on Sapporo’s Summer of Love. Every Summer.

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 18th July 2009

    My second column for the new Sapporo free paper SAPPORO SOURCE came out a few days ago, again as last time talking about something completely different: The weather. Last time was the hell of Sapporo Winters. This time the heaven of Sapporo Summers. Enjoy!

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Cultural Issue, Humor, Tangents | 3 Comments »

    Interview with Debito on TkyoSam’s Vlog: Shizzle!

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 6th January 2009

    Recently I sat down with Sam (a prolific vlogger, or video blogger), who turned his passport-sized camera on me for a bit of the young lingo and beer and chicken basket. What you don’t see is how afterwards we repaired with a group of friends for a lot more beers and some fascinating conversation with a drunk that Sam handled admirably. Sam grew up on manga and anime, and talks like those characters fluently (which is perfect for reducing any other pop-culture-immersed J-drunk into titters and tears). Yoyoyo, word! Feel the generation gap of the Bubble-Era-Older-Hand meets J-Pop Awsum Dude. Shizzle! And it’s a fun interview too.

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Humor, Podcasts, Speech materials | 6 Comments »

    Xmas List: Ten things Japan does best

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 25th December 2008

    Here’s my Christmas Present to readers: The top ten things I think Japan does better than just about everyone else.

    I include Toilet Culture, Calligraphy Goods, Packaging, Anime, Public Transportation, and several others I’m not going to list up here ‘cos I think you might enjoy reading the essay straight through (yes, I’ve put in a couple of rather surprising topics).

    This is an antidote to those people convinced I don’t like Japan.

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Humor, Tangents | 28 Comments »

    Humor: Cracked Mag Online on unappetizing restaurants

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 23rd December 2008

    More humor for a national holiday: Some restaurants (according to Cracked Magazine, which I thought was a poor second cousin to Mad Magazine, until I started reading the cutting online version) that defeat their purpose by offering food in very unappetizing ways.

    Now I don’t believe for a second that there is a place in Roppongi that allows you to diddle your meal before you eat it (in fact, I found this site due to a trackback to exposing the source as the deep-sixed Mainichi Waiwai). But it’s still a good read, and I love the (what seems to be verified) idea of airborne meals even if it’s a hoax.

    Posted in Food, Humor, Tangents | 3 Comments »

    Humor: Robin Williams stand-up comedy on Obama’s election

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 22nd December 2008

    More festivities for the end of days. Here’s a very funny stand-up piece by Robin Williams (introduced by an oddly wheelchair-bound former Minister of Silly Walks) regarding Obama’s election and the outgoing Bush Administration. Courtesy again of Dave Spector. Enjoy.

    Posted in Humor, Tangents | 2 Comments »

    Humor: “Beware of the Doghouse”: For you men with thoughtless gifts

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 20th December 2008

    First off-topic festive humor entry, particularly for hetero men readers out there: What follows is a link to the “Beware of the Doghouse” website, something well worth looking at because it’s a smart, funny, and well-produced five-minute mini-movie about men who don’t think deeply enough about what sorts of gifts to give their wife/female partner.

    Posted in Humor, Tangents | No Comments »

    JapanZine parody of Japan Times, “Gaijin Activist Successful in Obtaining a Ban on Racial Slur”

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 6th November 2008

    JapanZine (Nagoya’s free magazine for the international community) recently did a parody of the Japan Times, calling it the “Gokiburi Gazette”. Front and center, an article about activist “Tepid Naruhodo”, who gets the word “gaijin” banned, only to have its replacement shortened to the same thing. It’s very funny. Seriously. As are the other articles and the masthead advertisements.

    Posted in Human Rights, Humor | 6 Comments »

    Tangent: Silly Beard Poll

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 20th October 2008

    We’ve had serious polls for a number of weeks now, people. Time for a silly one.

    I’ve grown a beard. Recent photo included in this blog entry. Do you like it?

    Let the world hear your voice on this incredibly important issue! Vote early, vote often! Click on the poll at the top right of this blog page! Debeardo in Sapporo

    Posted in Blog Polls, Humor, Tangents | 23 Comments »

    Japan Times Tokyo Confidential with amusing anecdotes about G8 gifts and local offput business…

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 14th July 2008

    (excerpt) So this time [the G8 Summit organizers are] cutting back, with expenditures only about one-fourth that of the Okinawa Summit. Participants will receive a bag embroidered in the style of Hokkaido’s indigenous Ainu. In keeping with the conference’s ecological message, press kits handed out to reporters in “eco bags” were made from recycled materials. Other commemorative souvenirs such as furoshiki (a wrapping cloth used for carrying items) and chopsticks were also made from recycled materials.

    Perhaps, the magazine remarks, foreign newsmen who recall Japan’s magnanimous generosity at the previous Nago Summit were a bit disappointed this year.

    Among the local delicacies the foreign visitors could partake, Shukan Shincho continues, was Mame no Bunshiro Kazuno Natto, a gourmet variety of fermented soybeans, which are typically disdained by many foreigners due to their unfamiliar odor and texture, from Donan Hiratsuka Shokuhin Co. The beans also contain reishi (Ganodermalucidum), an edible fungus that boasts medicinal properties…

    Posted in Cultural Issue, G7/G8 Summits, Humor, Japanese Government | 1 Comment »

    Tangent: China bans terrorists during Olympics (Shanghai Daily)

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 10th June 2008

    Every now and again we do need a reality check. I’ve been heavily critical of Japan’s paranoid rules about G8 Summitry and security. Well, let’s cross the pond and see how silly China comes of regarding security during their Olympics. From the Shanghai Daily: “Overseas visitors suspected of working in the sex trade, of smuggling drugs or belonging to a terrorist organization will not be allowed to enter China during the 2008 Beijing Olympics… Foreigners with mental or epidemic diseases, including tuberculosis and leprosy, will also not be issued visas to visit China, the Organizing Committee said in a circular published on its official Website. Entry would be banned to anyone with “subversive” intent upon arriving in China, according to the rule…” But wait, there’s more…

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Humor, Problematic Foreign Treatment, Sport, Tangents | 26 Comments »

    Yahoo News/AP: Newest “Yokoso Japan” rep: Hello Kitty!

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 20th May 2008

    Yahoo News/AP: “Hello Kitty — Japan’s ubiquitous ambassador of cute — has built up an impressive resume over the years. Global marketing phenom. Fashion diva. Pop culture icon. Now the moonfaced feline can add “government envoy” to the list. The tourism ministry on Monday named Hello Kitty as its choice to represent the country in China and Hong Kong, two places where she is wildly popular among kids and young women.”

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Humor, Japanese Government | 5 Comments »

    Humor: Sankei Sports Pure-Ai Keitai dating service advertisement

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 3rd April 2008

    I still don’t feel like writing anything serious at the moment, so until that feeling passes I’ll write for fun. Such as on this great advertisement from Sankei Sports depicting two “case studies” of young marriageable people in their twenties, and the lives they lead until they get hooked up through this keitai dating service. It’s hilarious Japanicana, contrasting an essentially lonely and hopeless otaku salaryman with an anime-cute single woman with a surprisingly rich and whimsical life.

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Humor, Tangents | 3 Comments »

    Humor: Charles Kowalski letter to Yomiuri on Ishiba’s UFO fears

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 7th January 2008

    This is so good I couldn’t just let it languish within the comments section of this blog. It deserves an entry all its own. Charles Kowalski sent this letter to the Yomiuri when Defense Minister Hashiba (inter alia) was getting all nerdy about defenses against a theoretical UFO invasion late last year. Charles takes the issue and runs with it. The Yomiuri, predictably, wouldn’t publish it. So I will.

    Posted in Humor, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government | 6 Comments »

    Comedian Dave M G on New News: parodies of current events

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 29th December 2007

    Hi Blog. News is piling up, but I promised more holiday tangent: Turning the keyboard to comedian Dave M G, with news about a comedy show he’s doing as a non-native speaker on domestic events. I’ve seen Dave in action many times before (he’s an amazingly funny guy, and I’ve spent a lot of time […]

    Posted in Humor, Tangents | 2 Comments »

    Kaoru/Coal manga on the “Mischievous Stealth Provocateur Debito”

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 26th December 2007

    Happy Boxing Day, readers. As another special treat, let me send you this manga created by fellow naturalized citizen Kaoru, who scribbles with great aplomb on a situation I’m bound to encounter sooner or later. In great manga style–so that’s how I look to some… Love it.

    Posted in Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Humor | 1 Comment »

    GOJ now worried about aliens. No, not foreigners.

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 22nd December 2007

    GOJ engaging in serious discussion of alien attack. No, not foreigners. Real space aliens. And this is the world’s second biggest economy still wanting to be taken seriously? I told you the legislative peerage was out of touch with reality. Somebody call a snap election and get these fools out.

    Posted in Humor, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics | 6 Comments »

    Dream: “Japan is a Hugh Grant society.” Continue this story, everyone.

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 9th December 2007

    Good morning, Blog. It’s not like me to put dreams up on this blog (except maybe the pipe dreams, like a Japan with a law against racial discrimination ), but I just had such a zinger that I thought I’d put it up. And give readers a chance to complete the story themselves in the […]

    Posted in Humor, Tangents | No Comments »

    James Fallows of The Atlantic Monthly on NJ Fingerprinting

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 1st December 2007

    James Fallows on NJ Fingerprinting at Narita: “Let me put this bluntly: this is an incredibly degrading, offputting, and hostility-generating process… Today’s time spent in the passport clearance line for foreigners at Narita: 1 hour, 30 minutes. But mainly there is no getting around the insult factor of having entry to the country be like getting booked into County Jail… Think how the alarm bells would go off if China tried to impose a scheme like this! The editorials about “Big Brother in Beijing” practically write themselves. But now the two countries that apply the most intrusively big-brotherish surveiliance over those trying to visit are two liberal societies: the United States and Japan.”

    Posted in Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Humor, Ironies & Hypocrisies | 7 Comments »

    “YOKOSO JAPAN” parody poster, T-shirts and video

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 20th November 2007

    Courtesy Larry Fordyce Courtesy Nick Wood TEE SHIRTS ========================== Hi all, There have been several posts on various sites asking for a t-shirt designed to wear through Japan immigration & customs control to protest the recent policy of biometric I.D. for foreign nationals. I am pleased to say that we have come up with such […]

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Humor, Japanese police/Foreign crime | No Comments »

    “Oy Whities! Get Fingerprinted!” parody poster by Kaoru

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 20th November 2007

    Kaoru on fingerprinting NJ: “I knocked up a quick mock-poster illustrating the ludicrousy. This was just for my own amusement of course (especially the inclusion of Yu Kikumaru of the Red Army), but I figure there has to be a t-shirt idea in there somewhere!”

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Humor | 1 Comment »

    Some anti-fingerprinting policy cartoons (you didn’t get them from me…)

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 25th October 2007

    Some anti-fingerprinting policy cartoons (you didn’t get them from, of course)…

    Posted in Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Humor, Japanese Government, Problematic Foreign Treatment | No Comments »

    Mainichi: Iranian acquitted of indecent assault over lack of evidence

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 30th September 2007

    A Iranian has been acquitted of the indecent assault of a woman at his home in January last year, due to a court judgment of lack of evidence. Hope for the Idubor Case.

    Posted in Humor, Japanese police/Foreign crime, 日本語 | 6 Comments »

    Mainichi Waiwai: Tokugawa ancestors face their own sakoku

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 22nd September 2007

    The ancient Tokugawa Clan (which as daimyou closed off Japan for 250 years to foreign influences, known as the “sakoku” period) are facing their own sakoku. Their heir apparent has married a foreigner! A Vietnamese. Watch the feathers fly!

    Posted in History, Humor, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 4 Comments »

    TPR “Last Word” essay on “Why I love Japanese Elections”

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 28th July 2007

    Hi Blog. Got inspired on my way down to Tokyo yesterday, and wrote an essay on “why I love Japanese Elections” on the fly for Trans Pacific Radio. I also read it for TPR as part of its news segment (trying my hand at podcasting there for the first time) for July 27, 2007. Text and links provided.

    Posted in Humor, Japanese Politics, Podcasts | No Comments »

    TASS: Russian arrested in Nemuro on beer run

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 11th April 2007

    Humor: A Russian fisherman catching sea urchins decided to “drop into” Japan quickly to buy beer and was arrested on Saturday for illegally entering the country. The incident took place in Nemuro on the eastern coast of Hokkaido close to the Southern Kuriles–creating a potentially tense diplomatic situation due to the disputed territory between Japan and Russia.

    Posted in Humor | No Comments »

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