TASS: Russian arrested in Nemuro on beer run


Hi Blog. Just a little humorous aside.

Nothing like a little casual illegal entry to help make one of the world’s disputed borders (the Northern Territories, islands seized by USSR at the end of WWII and reason why there is no peace treaty to this day (only an armistice) between Japan and Russia) more disputed. Especially when it’s over a case of beer.

Russian fishermen dropping into Japan to buy beer detained
ITAR-TASS 08.04.2007, 06.20


TOKYO, April 8 (Itar-Tass) — 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.

The Japanese police said, referring to the detained man’s words, that he together with his colleagues fished near the Southern Kuriles. While his fellow fishermen picked sea urchins from the seabed, the 29-year-old man decided to quickly go on a rubber pneumatic boat with an engine to Nemuro to buy beer. He presented a 10,000-yen bill (about 83 dollars) and bought a box of bottles of beer.

However, members of a local fishing cooperative informed police about the suspicious boat, and the police thwarted the attempt of the man, who had no documents to enter Japan, to leave Nemuro.

The man was arrested at 11:48 local time (06:48 Moscow time), about an hour after he reached the coast. He remained in the police office in Nemuro. The police suppose the fisherman had no bad intentions, but say he had alcohol smell.

Japanese authorities informed the Vladivostok sea rescue centre that the detained person was a crewmember from a Russian schooner. Supposedly, the vessel is from the Sakhalin port of Nevelsk.

The Nemuro police do not remember such incidents happening ever before. At the same time, 30 years ago, in 1977, Soviet border guards detained a Japanese who managed to swim to Signalny Island that is within the territory claimed by Japan.


Thanks to http://www.fuckedgaijin.com/forums/showthread.php?t=17556

As the posters to this site poignantly ask, whatever happened to the beer? Debito



Don’t want this to be buried at the end of a newsletter, so…


Back by popular demand…


T-shirts with an authentic “JAPANESE ONLY” sign emblazoned on their chest.

Perfect for night wear, street wear, underjacket wear, and bar conversation starters!

Shirt is high-quality heavy cotton and comes in American sizes L and XL, in Blue and Black.

See photos of the shirt (guess who’s modelling it?), prices, and ordering details (bank transfer or Paypal) at

Why am I doing this? Because many people would rather pretend these JAPANESE ONLY signs do not exist. Too bad. They do.

Show your support. Help spread awareness of the problem in the best of satirical traditions, by wearing your heart on your sleeve, and the issue on your chest!

Price: 2500 yen including postage anywhere.
Buy one from me directly at one of my upcoming speeches and it’s 2000 yen (i.e. sans the price of postage).

Thanks! Debito on the road in Tokyo

Otaru Onsens “Japanese Only” sign incorporated into video game


Well, here’s a surprise. Incorporated into an online video game (a first-person shoot ’em up called “Counter Strike, Condition Zero”, one of the most popular, with customizable characters, weapons, and backgrounds), here is a scene where our hero gunman faces a door with a “JAPANESE ONLY” sign.

Believe it or not, that is a copy and paste from the Otaru Yunohana Onsen sign (up between 1998 and 2000), defendant in a lawsuit for racial discrimination between 2001 and 2004 (which it lost). More on that here. (I was one plaintiff in that case.)

Here’s a screen capture of the scene (click thumbnail for larger image):

Here’s a picture of the original Japanese Only sign, for comparison’s sake:

BTW, the scene apparently didn’t make the final cut.
(Japanese text)

Amazing to think how far this case and lawsuit has entered the popular culture. Not only has it been featured on entrance and final exams for law degrees in Japan, I’m told it also has been cited as one of the twenty most influential postwar law cases in a Waseda University law publication, not to mention overseas textbooks studying Japanese law.

Now it’s been slipped into a video game? I wonder if as the gunman character I could have used the gun to shoot the sign up. Oh, well, I can dream, can’t I?

Thanks to Dan for notifying me. I wonder what’s on the other side of that doorway… Not me I hope. 🙂 Debito in Sapporo

MDN Waiwai: J bad bath manners :-)


Another humorous diversion, while I’m at it…

Here’s another historical gem from the Waiwai page. The translator advised me not to take the article too seriously, so bring out the salt shakers.

Still (and not to pour cold water on the humors here, but), assuming truthiness, I await the onsen notice saying “No amorously moist couples allowed!” next to the “JAPANESE ONLY” sign… Ironies and hypocrisies indeed. Debito in Sapporo


Randy young couples play scrub-a-dub at rural hot springs
Mainichi Waiwai Page, October 6, 2005

“Our inn has a large common bath, plus four smaller private spas that can be rented by guests,” says the ‘kami’ female proprietor at a ryokan (Japanese-style inn) in Shizuoka’s Atagawa Onsen. “The private baths are available for rental on a round-the-clock basis. Of late, they’ve been taken over by young couples, who are quite … noisy, if you know what I mean.”

Gracious old rural inns, traditionally, have been places where Japanese go to relax in natural surroundings while soaking away their aches and pains in mineral hot springs. But, reports Shukan Jitsuwa (10/13), inns’ clientele of late seem to have other ideas.

“The idea of 24-hour bathing was to let you get up early, and soak in the tub while watching the rising sun burn off the morning mist,” continues the kami. “Or, you could go late there at night and gaze at the starry sky. It made things all the more relaxing. But when you’ve got to worry about families bathing within hearing range of these noisy young couples, it’s really vexing.”

The inn’s proprietor describes such amorous sound effects as a staccato “picha-picha” of water sloshing in the tub, accompanied by a moaning female voice.

“Then you might hear a strained male voice muttering something like, ‘Keep it down, people can hear!’ followed by a woman saying, ‘Ahhhh this is too much!’ It sets off a chain reaction and inflames their passion even more.”

“We certainly want couples who come here to be able to enjoy a romantic interlude,” the kami at another rural spa tells Shukan Jitsuwa. “But they get pretty messy in their lovemaking. Employees have told me when they go into the bathing areas to clean up, they can see obvious traces that sex took place. Since other people use the baths too, they should at least be considerate enough to wipe up after they finish.

“Japan’s traditional hot spring culture regards this kind of behavior as absolutely disgraceful!” she complains.
Japan’s ryokan industry, unfortunately, is in the throes of an unprecedented recession, and as such is hardly in the position to turn away business. But still …

Take this story of three “office ladies” in their 20s employed at Tokyo trading company, who caroused over too many cups of sake with their evening meal and got completely plastered.

“They went lurching down the corridor towards the bath, the fronts of their robes hanging open, exposing their naked breasts, and completely oblivious to the other patrons,” complains the operator of a ryokan in Hakone, near Mt. Fuji. “Then they staggered naked into the men’s bath by mistake. There was just one old man in there alone, and when he saw these three completely naked young women walk in, he nearly freaked out. To make things worse, one of the drunk girls said to him, ‘Gyaaaa — what’re you doin’ in here? This is the women’s bath!” as if he were the guilty party. Outrageous!”

Each autumn, just before the beginning of the tourist season, hotels at the Kusatsu spa in Gumma Prefecture invite bus drivers and female bus guides to an orientation. These bus guides used to be fairly serious young women. But those days, sighs Shukan Jitsuwa, are long gone. According to one witness account, after the inn’s customers have turned in for the night, the drivers and bus guides head for the bath and engage in wild orgies.
Likewise, the notion that the custom of mixed bathing is an “innocent” practice with no sexual overtones is rapidly — no pun intended — being laid to rest.

“These days I’ve seen women, even those who come here with their husbands, pair off with other men,” says a kami at a bed & breakfast spa in Tochigi Prefecture. “What’s more, couples interested in swapping are using the Internet to seek other enthusiasts, and then meeting up at our place. They’re using mixed bathing for the kinds of things that go on in ‘happening bars,'” she says, referring to clubs in Tokyo and other major cities where patrons engage in intercourse on a stage while other customers look on.

“People living in rural areas don’t have those kind of opportunities, so spas like ours — which are the one type of place where nobody takes notice when men and women bathe together — are becoming the perfect venues for these kind of sensual encounters.”

The inns’ determination to preserve their country’s proud tradition of hot spring bathing, sighs Shukan Jitsuwa, may be a losing battle. (By Masuo Kamiyama, contributing writer.)
October 6, 2005

MDN Waiwai on dealing with police checkpoints: have boobs.


Hi Blog. A little humorous diversion. Mainichi’s Waiwai Page (a guilty pleasure–it really captures one facet of Japan’s fascinating media) has a story on how one person dealt with one of those nasty random NPA Gaijin Card Checkpoints:


Busty babe puts pushy policemen in their place
Mainichi Daily News Waiwai Page January 11, 2007

A chance encounter on a Tokyo street gave a spunky half-American model a chance to make sure the capital’s uncouth law enforcers copped a blast, according to Shukan Asahi (1/19).

DJ-cum-model Yurika Amari ended up giving some of the Metropolitan Police Department’s plods a lesson in good manners.

She was making up for some rough handling she received from the long arm of the law after they suspected she was up to no good apparently because her big bust and lanky looks made her stand out from the crowded streets of Tokyo’s Shibuya district.

Amari, whose father is an American, was walking along the streets in late December when a couple of uniformed cops came up and grabbed her from behind. They whirled her around and demanded she tell them whether she was a foreigner and if she could speak Japanese.

One of the cops reached for Amari’s handbag. When she refused to give it to him, he snatched it away from her and began rifling through it. When the fuzz failed to find anything untoward, they began walking away, but Amari wasn’t letting them off so easily after what they’d just put her through. She asked their names and they simply flashed their police notebooks (the Japanese equivalent of a Western cop showing their badge) and sauntered off…

Amari filed a complaint with the MPD over the way the cops had handled her. She demanded a meeting with the officers who had accosted her and an apology. She ended up speaking to their boss, who refused to apologize for their behavior. With police refusing to express any regret, Amari asked for — and was given — the opportunity to educate the police on boorish behavior.

Tokyo’s cops acknowledged Amari taught them some lessons.

“Among the opinions she expressed were some that could be useful when it comes to questioning people in the future. She also works as a teacher at schools and places. We thought she may be able to provide us with some interesting views, so asked her to give a speech for us,” an MPD spokesman tells the Weekly.

Amari spoke for about 1 hour to around 80 police officers, most of them men in their 40s and 50s. She was pleased with the results.

“I used the experiences I’d been through to tell people about the best way to deal with women and advised them not to come up from behind people and grab them by the shoulders,” Amari tells Shukan Asahi. “I said everything I wanted to. There’s no bitterness left now.” (By Ryann Connell)


(Now, if only more of us could be eye candy for slavering cops, we might get more of an audience…!)

J Times Letter re Gregory Clark’s Ideological Laundry


Hi Blog. Bit of a surprise to find this Letter to the Editor regarding old Gregory Clark and his ranting ways. Especially since I’ve been such a target of them in the past (as the letter alludes). I promise I had nothing to do whatsoever with this letter. Still, glad somebody out there is ready with a critical eye to draw attention to the ironies and hypocrisies (see links below letter) of a man who should long have been retired from writing any column for the Japan Times. Debito in Sapporo

Japan Times
Sunday, Dec. 3, 2006
As alike as they are different

By A.E. LAMDON, Nishinomiya, Hyogo

Regarding Gregory Clark’s Nov. 20 article, “Ideological laundry unfurled“: While Yoshihisa Komori’s ideological bullying is deplorable, it is ironic that Clark complains about it. “Rightwing,” “right-leaning,” “besmirch,” “notorious,” “snide,” “sinister,” “fulminating,” “atrocities” — such flaming rhetoric lights up yet another Clark column as he rails against yet another target of his. Clark regularly uses his column (and letters to the editor) to verbally firebomb those targets, a good and ironic example being the case of Debito Arudou.

It is ironic because Clark’s fulminations about Arudou’s campaign against a “no-gaijin” bathhouse were noted by certain circles of Japanese society and resulted in unpleasant consequences for Arudou and his associates — the same sort of consequences that Clark claims he is the victim of now.

Although of opposite wings, Clark and Komori are essentially alike: They use their journalistic billets as bully pulpits to rant against those with whom they disagree. It was just a matter of time before they were exchanging fire.


More on this mysterious and extremely stripey character:

Wash Post/MSNBC on GOJ moves against fake J food abroad (with update)


Hello Blog. Fascinating article (thanks Ryan) on how Japan is instituting “quality control” in Japanese restaurants abroad–by certifying them as “real” and “pure Japanese”. Sort of like the beauty contests in the Japanese community in Hawaii I read about a decade ago open only to people with “pure Japanese blood”…?

Anyway, I know Japan is a nation of foodies, but fighting against overseas restaurants tendency towards “fusion food”? Especially since, as the article notes, so much of Japanese food is from overseas, anyway? Tenpura, castella, fried chicken (“zangi” where I come from), even ramen! And what if J restaurants innovate, and want to offer something from another country on the menu (such a Chinese or a Vietnamese dish)? Will it have to be offered in J restaurants first in Japan before it can be offered in J restaurants overseas as “authentic Japanese cuisine”? Silly, silly, silly.

This culinary Balkanization seems to be yet another way to give some retired OBs some work after retirement–what better way than for them to take money from either the restaurants or the J taxpayer than by offering “certifications”? Anyway, enjoy the article. Food for thought. Debito


Putting the bite on fake sushi and other insults
Japan plans to scrutinize restaurant offerings abroad

By Anthony Faiola, Washington Post. Courtesy of MSNBC
Updated: 5:18 a.m. ET Nov. 24, 2006

TOKYO – On a recent business trip to Colorado, Japan’s agriculture minister popped into an inviting Japanese restaurant with a hankering for a taste of back home. What Toshikatsu Matsuoka found instead was something he considered a high culinary crime — sushi served on the same menu as Korean-style barbecued beef.

“Such a thing is unthinkable,” he said. “Call it what you will, but it is not a Japanese restaurant.”

A fast-growing list of gastronomic indignities — from sham sake in Paris to shoddy sashimi in Bangkok — has prompted Japanese authorities to launch a counterattack in defense of this nation’s celebrated food culture. With restaurants around the globe describing themselves as Japanese while actually serving food that is Asian fusion, or just plain bad, the government here announced a plan this month to offer official seals of approval to overseas eateries deemed to be “pure Japanese.”

Some observers here have suggested that the government’s new push for food purity overseas is yet another expression of resurgent Japanese nationalism. But the mentality in Japan also echoes a similar movement by several nations — including Italy and Thailand — now offering guidelines and reward programs to restaurants abroad to regain a measure of control over their increasingly internationalized cuisines.

So beware, America, home of the California roll. The Sushi Police are on their way.

A trial run of sorts was launched this summer in France, where secret inspectors selected by a panel of food specialists were dispatched to 80 restaurants in Paris that claimed to serve Japanese cuisine. Some establishments invited the scrutiny, while others were targeted with surprise checks. About one-third fell short of standards — making them ineligible to display an official seal emblazoned with cherry blossoms in their windows or to be listed on a government-sponsored Web site of Japanese restaurants in Paris.

‘A highly developed art’

Matsuoka, who took over Japan’s top agricultural job in September, is the mastermind of the new “Japanese restaurant authentication plan.” He said it does not always take a culinary sleuth to spot an impostor. “Sometimes you can tell just by looking at their signs that these places are phony,” he said.

“What people need to understand is that real Japanese food is a highly developed art. It involves all the senses; it should be beautifully presented, use genuine ingredients and be made by a trained chef,” he continued. “What we are seeing now are restaurants that pretend to offer Japanese cooking but are really Korean, Chinese or Filipino. We must protect our food culture.”

In recent years, few culinary traditions have witnessed the kind of global boom, and distortion, of Japanese food.

In the United States alone, the number of restaurants claiming to serve Japanese food soared to 9,000 in 2005, or double the number a decade ago, according to Japanese government statistics. The government projects that the number of Japanese restaurants worldwide will leap to 48,000 by 2009, more than double the current level.

Some have gone all-out to ensure authenticity. Masa in New York City imports its fish from Tokyo’s Tsukiji Fish Market while Umu in London regularly flies in the soft water of Kyoto, Japan’s old capital, to make its bonito fish broths. But they are largely exceptions in a world where the Japanese fear their food is being lost in translation.

In the United States, the proliferation of counterfeit Japanese foods now includes seaweed rolls stuffed with smoked salmon and cream cheese. In Canada, Vera’s Burger Shack in Vancouver is offering tempura-battered onion rings. As the recent test in Paris showed, even such gastronomic bastions as France can be guilty of sushi sacrilege.

“You will find restaurants here that serve salmon sushi with a little yakitori [charcoaled chicken] on the side and call themselves Japanese,” said Tsuyoshi Nakai, the Paris head of JETRO, Japan’s overseas trade promotion arm. “Then there are the ones serving what they claim is Japanese sake, but of course, it isn’t. What is it? I don’t know. But it smells, and tastes, very strange.”

High demand for real Japanese chefs

With the demand for real Japanese chefs far greater than the global supply in a nation with a shrinking population and few modern-day emigrants, many foreign owners of Japanese restaurants have turned to cooks from other Asian countries to add a faux touch of authenticity to their establishments. Pan-Asian restaurants have also begun adding more healthful and light Japanese dishes to their menus to cater to new tastes, some of them going as far as changing their names to the inevitable “Mt. Fuji” or “Sakura” to lure broader clienteles.

That has infuriated Japanese sushi chefs overseas, leading some — including those who formed the D.C. Sushi Society in the 1990s — to unite into advocacy groups aimed at protecting an elaborate form of cooking that is tradition-bound and highly hierarchical.

Officials here emphasize that it is not the race of the cooks they are concerned about, but the fact that such chefs are rarely properly trained and know little about the culture behind the food.

In Japanese haute cuisine, for example, the aesthetics of a meal — from elegant ceramic serving bowls to suitable flower arrangements — are considered as important as the food itself. Quality quashes quantity; a single mouthful of otoro — fatty tuna sashimi sliced just right — can sell for $20 in Tokyo sushi houses. Japan’s famously elaborate kaiseki ryori can take days to prepare and must be presented in small courses on plates and in color combinations that delight and amuse.

Most importantly, such meals must be prepared by highly specialized chefs — some of whom apprentice for years before they are permitted to cook for paying customers.

Makoto Fukue, the head of the Tokyo Sushi Academy who trains about 75 Japanese chefs-for-export a year, insisted that the inexperience of some foreign sushi chefs may be driving customers away from more adventurous Japanese fare.

“Many Americans do not like the taste of conger eel sushi, but that is because the chefs are not preparing it right — and so it tastes fishy and has an odor,” he said. “If you had a trained chef preparing those same foods, you would find more openness to experiment with the same foods we eat in Japan.”

But some here have expressed caution about the launch of the government approval system, arguing that Japan is a country also notorious for adapting foreign foods to local tastes. Indeed, that rare talent gave birth to Japanese seafood and mayonnaise pizza.

In addition, many so-called Japanese foods have foreign influences or roots. Batter-coated and fried food known as tempura, for instance, was introduced to the Japanese by Portuguese missionaries during the 16th century.

“The question is, what can we really call ‘Japanese food’?” said Masuhiro Yamamoto, the Tokyo-based food guru. “Here in Japan, we believe that tonkatsu [fried pork cutlet] is essentially Japanese, but try and tell the French that isn’t porc paner.”

The government has appointed an advisory board of food luminaries and intellectuals to develop a workable method for the project ahead of its full launch in April. Matsuoka said the most likely scenario would be the creation of government-sanctioned food commissions in major countries to evaluate a restaurant’s “Japanese-ness” based on authentic ingredients, chef training, aesthetics and other criteria.

Such a method might also coincidentally increase Japanese food exports, given that restaurants using Japanese products are likely to score some brownie points.

“Of course using Japanese materials would be preferable,” Matsuoka said. “But our real purpose is to set benchmarks for how Japanese food is made overseas. We take our food very seriously.”

I think they should check the credentials of Japanese who go to the US, claim to be sushi masters and open their own shops–been to a few in Boston. Ironically, the best sushi master in Metro-West is a Chinese man who actually studied sushi for 8 years in Tokyo.

I wish I had the time to inspect the “American” restaurants here. Mos Burger and Mr. Bagu would be first on my list….CHAD