Sunday, December 30, 2007

The First SASUKE? Plus, Kane Kosugi at the Shaolin Temple: Kinniku Banzuke!

Well, it looks like G4 is going to re-air the Kinniku Banzuke (Muscle Ranking) series as a show called Unbeatable Banzuke. For those who don't know, Kinniku Banzuke is the TV series that spawned SASUKE, KUNOICHI, Sportsman No. 1 and the Muscle Musical. It aired from 1995 to 2002 and was then replaced by two other shows that didn't do as well and eventually got canceled. You can read all about it here.
Kane Kosugi was a big part of Kinniku Banzuke as a competitor in SASUKE and the Sportsman No. 1 shows (he dominated the early Geinojin Sportsman shows until Naoki Iketani showed up). Kane moved to Japan to try to make it on his own, away from the shadow of his father Sho Kosugi (well-known by teen-aged boys of the 80s for being a ninja). Part of Kinniku Banzuke was about Kane going around and trying different things like being a stunt man or going through SWAT training. In the following clip, we see him learning martial arts at the Shaolin Temple:

And here's an interview from 2003 with Hawaii's Eye-Ai magazine.

Omori Akira AKA Monkkiki (he changed his name to jump-start his career based on advice by that fortune teller lady who's always telling people that they should have died some time or that they will die because of..something) was also a regular in the early days of Kinniku Banzuke. He even went to learn Muay Thai kickboxing for the show. As far as I know, G4 has never aired any part of the first SASUKE competition so we don't know much about it. In the following clip, I assume that the first 40 seconds of this is part of his run in the 1st show as his contestant number matches that found in the SASUKE wikipedia entry and he makes it to the final stage:

Couple of other SASUKE related notes:
The cast of the Muscle Musical will once again perform during NHK's Kohaku Uta Gassen.

Some other competitors for the Sportsman No. 1 show on New Years Day aside from Ronaldinho, Paul ANTHONY Terek and Wakky are Nakayama Kinnikun, handball player Miyazaki Daisuke (who won Sportsman No. 1 in 2006), football player Kinoshita Noriaki (NFL Europe) and San Francisco Giants outfielder Rajai Davis.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

For many people back in the states, it's still Christmas Eve...

But since Japan is in the future, it is officially Christmas so Merry Christmas everyone!

Pictures are from the corner near the ANA Hotel in Ube. Isn't amazing how nobody has tried to vandalize the display? Truly the spirit of Christmas is alive and well in Ube!

Simple It's a Wonderful Life Drinking Game: Take a drink any time someone says "George Bailey" in the movie. It should be something like over twenty times. If that's not enough, down the whole drink if a character says "Hee-Haw" or "Hot Dog".

Monday, December 24, 2007

Don Quijote in Ube! ドン・キホーテ 宇部店!

So the other day I rode down to the latest place to open in good ol' Ube, Don Quijote. The first I Don Quijote I ever went to was the one in Sapporo. It seemed very random in it's selection of goods and it was quite bewildering. Of course that one seemed normal compared to the Don Quijote in Akihabara which is the home to idol group AKB48 and has an entire floor of costumes and a maid cafe. But a combination of the reasonably priced and the strange is what Don Quijote is all about. Some of the random things I found during my shopping:

Candy G-string:

Your penis? A faucet:

Kojima Yoshio mask:

And of course, the Billy Blanks costume:

Don Quijote has been trying to extend it's reach as they converted the old Kaheka Daiei/Holiday Mart in Honolulu late last year to create it's first overseas Don Quijote store. At the time, people in Hawaii seemed a bit confused, especially with the name. Then again, I never knew which it was (Daiei? Holiday Mart?) when I was living there anyway.

This is the second new big chain to open in Ube this year as a Kojima Denki opened near Fuji Grand back in October. *Sniff* My city is growing up *sniff*

Friday, December 14, 2007

Caught! Three foreign NPB players named in Mitchell Report - Alex Cabrera, Jeff Williams and Adam Riggs

Edit! Added one more active player, Yakult's Adam Riggs!

The biggest news in the sports blogosphere right now is the Mitchell Report. For those who don't follow Major League Baseball, steroid and drug use has apparently been running rampant and ruining America's pastime and it was time that someone put a stop to it! So former U.S. Senator George Mitchell was tapped by Bud Selig after the cat was out of the bag reading Game of Shadows, the book that details how Barry Bonds' head has grown throughout his career.

89 current and former MLB players were named in the report and two Nippon Professional Baseball players were named: Seibu's Alex Cabrera and Hanshin's Jeff Williams.

Cabrera's name first pops up on page 94 of the report. Cabrera was with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2000 and a package arrived for him in September of that year. A snooping clubhouse employee - probably looking for stuff to take - found anabolic steroids and diet pills in the package, turned it over to the team and it was sent to the DEA. While the DEA took it's time thoroughly investigated the package the Diamondbacks had gotten rid of their potential problem shipped Cabrera to the Seibu Lions. The investigation was halted because Japan is really far away from Arizona. Cabrera has insisted that he does not know why the package has his name on it.

Williams paid for his steroids by check back in 2004 which turned out to be a bad idea because former Mets (!) bat boy Kirk Radomski turned it over to Mitchell. Williams is first named on page 227 and on pages 230 and 231 we get to read about how he and his minor league teammates (all five of whom were later called up to the big leagues, four of them to the L.A. Dodgers that year) had a little party in 1999. But rather than play cards and have drinks they injected themselves in the butt with steroids. Fun!

Whoa, I just realized something: Williams only played in L.A. from 1999 to 2002. He was already playing for Hanshin by 2004 which was also the year he helped Australia take the Silver at the Athens Olympics.

This is apparently bad timing for both players since I believe that their contracts were up after this past season. In fact, if I'm looking at this Asahi Shinbun story right, it looks like Williams was in contract negotiations this morning when the report went public. Oops.

Edit: I just picked up from here that I missed another current player: Adam Riggs of the Yakult Swallows is also mentioned in the report. His story unfolds on pages 211 to 212 and started when he was either with the Dodgers, Padres or Angels. Man, they must have nothing to do in California except inject themselves with steroids. In this case, there is even a scan of an international money order sent from Riggs to Radomski.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Ronaldinho in next Sportsman No. 1

I was just browsing through the New Year programming and caught this on the TBS website:


This roughly translates to "We've got our biggest participant yet with superstar Horseyface Ronaldinho!"

Should be interesting. I believe Paul ANTHONY Terek will be there to defend his title as will Wakky since he is the reigning Geinojin champion plus someone from the San Francisco Giants and other athletes from around Japan.

The photo at the top of this post (stolen shamelessly from the TBS website) seems to be a bit spoilerish since Horseyface Ronaldinho looks like he's just missed his carrot a ball during the Shot-Gun Touch.

I may or may not live-blog it but the damn thing is something like four hours long (with the Monster Box portion taking up at least 45 minutes). Of course, it's not like I have anything else to do on New Year's Day.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Kuwata Keisuke takes on Giant Baba! 桑田佳祐 vs. ジャイアント馬場 plus ダーリン

Keeping with his theme of making commercials with dead people celebrities who have passed on for Wonda Coffee here is Kuwata Keisuke's latest CM, this time starring puroresu legend Shohei "Giant" Baba:

This follows Kuwata's previous Wonda commercials with actor Hitoshi Ueki and director Akira Kurosawa.

As a bonus, here is Kuwata's latest (solo) single, ダーリン (thanks to youtube user hijiricom):

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Look at the 19th SASUKE Competition 新SASUKE秋 2007!

Well, since G4 has finally (I think) aired the 19th competition stateside and people keep ending up here on google searches here are some photos of the first stage of the latest SASUKE competition:

Stage One obstacles:
1. Sextuple step 六段跳び

2.Log Grip ロッググリップ

3. Pole Maze ポールメイズ

4. Jumping Spider ジャンピングスパイダー

5. Half-Pipe Attack ハーフパイプアタック

6. Warped Wall そり立つ壁

7. Flying Chute フライングシュート

8. Tarzan Rope/Rope Ladder ターザンロープ/ロープラダー

Now then, to address some other searches:

Colin Bell and Brett Sims were the two representatives from G4 from America

Unfortunately, while they did well (especially relative to the rest of the field), they couldn't get past the first stage.

Shunsuke Nagasaki! Shunsuke Nagasaki! Shunsuke Nagasaki!

More about the Ube City Festa 2007 宇部まつり

Some random things I didn't put in the other post because it was getting too long...

One of my favorite things to get at anytime the street food booths are set up is the heart-attack inducing cup o' chicken (note: this is only the medium size cup):

Pikachu's got no eyes!

This was in front of the police table. They are members of Aum Shinrikyo who were responsible for the sarin attack in the Tokyo subway in 1995. If you're in Japan, you've probably seen these faces in post offices, supermarkets, pretty much everywhere. However, many people, especially students, were stopping to look at these mainly because they were so weird looking:

It was gone by the afternoon.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Ube City Festa 2007 宇部まつり

This is a bit late but better late than never I suppose...

Every beginning of November Ube City holds the Ube Matsuri. This isn't really a traditional Japanese festival. It's just a festival to celebrate..Ube. As you can see on the poster, this year is the 56th year of the festival. It's a fairly big event as it pretty much closes down the middle of the city on a Sunday. For comparison, here are some photos of how the area where the festival is held looks before the festival:

And here are some shots from during the festival:

This is the World Kitchen -- there are various food booths run by restaurants from around Yamaguchi prefecture and a stage for various types of performers. This year we had comedy duo クワバタオハラ (Kuwabataohara), a yo-yo champion and lots of local singers and dancers.

Notice the blue "Ube" in the background? That's the Ube Industries logo. That will be important later.

More pics from the festival. In order we'll see the flea market, two different dance groups, a crowd shot and..a clown:

There was also a parade. Actually, there were two parades. One in the morning and one in the afternoon.

Some pictures from the morning parade:

And here are some from the afternoon parade (yes, they used the same float). Why are there two parades? Well, the second parade features only people from Ube Industries whereas the first is from different groups and schools. Ube Industries..well, I'll put it this way: If Ube Industries were to disappear, it's very likely that the city of Ube would disappear too. The company is huge, with different offices and factories around the city (they even have their own hospital). For many local factories and companies Ube Industries is their biggest customer. The founder of the company donated the land for Tokiwa Park. So yeah, they get their own parade.

This is pretty much the only yearly event that closes down the middle of the city like this. There are lots of things that I didn't get a chance to take photos of like the live street performances and some other stuff. Not your traditional festival but it's not like there's much else to do around here.

Urawa Reds win AFC Champions League

The Urawa Red Diamonds of Saitama, Japan defeated Sepahan F.C. of Esfahan, Iran 2-0 in Saitama (3-1 on aggregate).

Story from the official site here.

Although the story says that the Reds are the first Japanese side to win the Champions League, the league itself has only been around since 2002. Before that, there was the Asian Club Cup where the last Japanese champion was Jubilo Iwata back in 1999.

Yuichiro Nagai and Yuki Abe scored the goals for the Reds.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Rolling Stone Japan's 100 Greatest Rock Albums

The much smarter than me people at neojaponisme recently put up the list of the 100 Greatest Japanese Rock Albums of All Time that was in the September 07 issue of Rolling Stone. I'm not really all that familiar with a lot of these acts but since I love lists and rock I thought that I would try to dig up what I could from some of these albums. After listening to a couple of the tracks I could find on youtube I think I'd have to more or less agree with one of the reader comments: "Wow, somebody has a very different definition of rock than me." Still, if it gets people listening, it gets people listening.

Here are some songs from the top five albums:

1. はっぴいえんど (Happy End) - 風をあつめて (from the album 風街ろまん).
This song was used in Lost in Translation although I don't remember where.

(Thanks to youtube user hepuuuu)

2. RCサクセション (RC Succession) - 雨上がりの夜空に (from the album ラプソディ).
Their lead singer is the guy we saw kissing Ryuichi Sakamoto here.

(Thanks to youtube user inventor009)

3. ザ・ブルーハーツ (The Blue Hearts) - リンダリンダ (from the album ザ・ブルーハーツ).

(Thanks to youtube user bluehighlow)

4. YMO - Technopolis (from the album Solid State Survivor). I've talked about YMO before. Rydeen is from the same album.

(Thanks to youtube user VickySakamoto)

5. 矢沢永吉 (Yazawa Eikichi) - 時間よ止まれ (from the album ゴールドラッシュ).

(Thanks to youtube user brkc2d22)

Like most Top Whatever lists, the top tends to go more for historical (read: older) records and takes commercial success into consideration. The highest ranking release from the last five years is Dir en grey's Withering to Death at 34 although two release from the late 90's Fishmans' 空中キャンプ and Cornelius' ファンタズマ come in at 8 and 10, respectively. And of course people will probably look at the addition of Utada Hikaru (in at 99 for First Love) and raise their eyebrows just a bit.
Anyway, this was an enjoyable little task and hopefully I'll be back with more later!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Selecting a sports team to cheer for...

When the Red Sox completed their sweep of the Rockies I realized that the Japan Series was still going on and I wondered if I should post about them to balance things out (especially after the combined perfect game to win it) but I got kind of burned out on baseball at that point. Five of my seven posts in October were about the MLB and seven of eight of my posts were about sports (the eighth being about murder, not something I really want to constantly blog about).

It was about that time that I realized that the reason I didn't really care about the Japan Series was that I didn't have anyone to cheer for or root against. In the World Series I was cheering for Daisuke but against Boston.

As I said before, I am a Mets fan and generally cheer for New York teams. I was a big fan of the Patrick Ewing-era Knicks and I was glad that Mark Messier was around to help the New York Rangers win the Stanley Cup.

Due to the influence of some friends from England I follow West Ham whenever I remember to look at the scores. Hey, middle of the table is better than fighting to simply stay in the Premier League.

I also have certain players that I cheer for. Alex! is one. Brent Barry is another. After watching the Knicks/Nuggets game on NHK BS I think I *heart* Renaldo Balkman. Hey, I never said the players I cheered for were superstars.

Anyway, I've decided that I'm going to follow some Japanese sports teams to see if it will get me a bit more interested in what's going on locally.

Now unfortunately, I live in Yamaguchi prefecture which doesn't have any big league teams. There are two local football (soccer for us Americans) clubs in the area though:
FCバレイン下関 (FC Baleine Shimonoseki) is a football club that is something like three leagues below the J League. Baleine is French for くじら.
A bit higher on the scale (I think!) is レノファ山口FC (Renofa Yamaguchi). The word Renofa is a combination of Reno from renovation and Fa from either fight or fine. Yup.

That's a start. Not quite the same as following the big leagues though although the fight to get promoted to a bigger league is something I wish the U.S. would do more often. (By the way, if you ever need to make your mind boggle, try to follow the chart at the bottom of the wikipedia entry for the English football league system. And those are just the leagues, not teams.)

So...taking into consideration that geography is always important when choosing who you cheer for (I have an excuse for cheering for New York teams since I'm from Hawaii which has no pro teams in any sports and you have to figure it out for yourself) I'll be following サンフレッチェ広島 (Sanfrecce Hiroshima) as my designated J League team. They even have a similar history to West Ham: They did a lot early on and not all that much since.

Also, since I was planning to blog about it eventually, I will try to follow ライジング福岡 (Rizing Fukuoka - the z is because they are hard core!) of the unfortunately named bj league. Japan has a bit of an odd situation that the US hasn't seen in a while -- two competing leagues of roughly the same level. While the Japan Basketball League (which has two divisions) is probably better known club teams can choose between the JBL and the bj league. Kobe Bryant's father, Joe Bryant, is the head coach of the bj league's Tokyo Apache.

Since the baseball season is over, I will take the time to mull over whether or not I will cheer for the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks or the Hiroshima Carp. I'll probably choose the Hawks since I often inadvertently read the name Hiroshima Carp as the Hiroshima Crap. Sorry guys..

Monday, October 29, 2007

Red Sox win World Series 4-0

Well, that was fairly lopsided. The Red Sox pretty much beat up the supposedly well-reseted Rockies. While both teams were riding winning streaks into the series I guess the Rockies momentum got killed by the down time and the Red Sox had too much talent to overcome.

Hideki Okajima gave up another homer, this time in the 8th inning which helped close the gap but it wasn't enough. A bit of an up and down post-season for Okajima as everyone was singing his praises through the ALCS and after Game 2 but he gave up two homers in his last two appearances.

Daisuke Matsuzaka became the first Japanese pitcher to win a World Series game and would have been slated to start Game 7. After his shaky Game 3 start in the ALCS he caught a lot of criticism but one wonders if his wins in Game 7 of the ALCS and Game 3 of the WS (which some people were saying was one of his best starts of the year) are enough for the Red Sox Nation to lay off on him for a bit (not that they care at this point). Oh, and 103 million dollars. He also was the victim of a trick on national TV as someone stuck a bubble gum bubble on the top of his hat which he was unaware of for a couple of minutes.

Kazuo Matsui was pulled towards the end of the game. I wasn't really paying attention as to why. But he ended with a .294 average and went 5-17. While he wasn't lighting it up he was one of the lone fairly bright spots for the Rockies. NHK also showed lots of shots of him looking down-trodden while sitting on the bench.

Congrats to the Red Sox. I don't mind the Celtics winning it all because I like Kevin Garnett but I really really hope the Patriots don't win the Super Bowl. In fact, I hope the Pats go through the regular season undefeated and then lose after the first-round bye. That would be fun. Not for them of course. Or Bill Simmons. But that's kind of the point.

There's always next year Mets fans!

Oh jeez. NHK is airing a highlight package and they have lots of happy shots of Matsuzaka and Okajima (to be fair they show Okajima giving up the homers) but they show pretty much every Matsui strike-out and the last shot of him is when he was sitting on the bench. Poor guy.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Matsuzaka goes 5, Red Sox one win away from another title

Well, the Red Sox took an early 6-0 lead, held on at 6-5 and finally took Game Three 10-5 and now the brooms are looming.
Daisuke Matsuzaka's stats (from Yahoo! sports):
5.1 innings pitched, 3 BB, 5 K, 2 ER. He also went 1-3 with 2 RBI.
Not a bad outing for Boston's 103 million dollar man. He did walk two batters in a row which led to Sox Manager Terry Francona pulling him in the bottom of the 5th and those two walks turned into two runs when Javier Lopez was unable to get anyone out. A rare mistake by Francona but in the end the Red Sox pulled it out and Matsuzaka is now the first Japanese pitcher to win a World Series game. This was also probably his last start of this season as it looks quite unlikely that the series will go seven games.
Hideki Okajima also pitched in today's game and gave up a homer in the 7th (only one run was earned though). Not quite the lights-out form he showed in Game Two.
Also, the mini-rally in the 7th was sparked by Kazuo Matsui's lead-off bunt (he would go on to score on Holliday's homer). This was the best game of the series for Matsui as he went 3-5.

NHK General started broadcasting the game from around the middle of the 1st inning and then switched to regular programming somewhere around the 6th inning. Huh? Luckily, I have BS and was able to watch the rest of the game but still...that was really weird. You'd think NHK would be all over an event like this (they're interviewing him right now about being the first Japanese pitcher to win a World Series game).

Game 4 will be in Colorado tomorrow. The NHK BS-1 broadcast will start 9:15 AM.

Today's box score from Yahoo! Sports.

Even more eyes on Daisuke

Well, Daisuke came through (sort of) in Game 7. He went five and got the win but wasn't exactly impressive. Now the Red Sox are up 2-0 on the Rockies who have obviously come back down to earth after having to wait eight days between games. Daisuke will be back on the mound again for Game Three in Colorado. Unlike the Game Three of the ALCS there will be a bit less pressure on Daisuke to produce; the Sox are on the road and have a two game cushion and only need to take one on the road to get the series back to Boston for the finale (not that you necessarily want that to happen if you are a Sox fan). However, this is the World Series. In Game Two Hideki Okajima became the first Japan-born player to pitch in the World Series. Matsuzaka will be the first Japan-born pitcher to start in the World Series in Game Three. So there will be pressure. Also, the coverage of this game in Japan should be pretty extensive since the game will be played on a Sunday morning (NHK BS-1 from 9:10 AM -- watch the pitchers warm up! It's exciting! Or not. NHK General from 10:00 -- skip the warm-up and the US National anthem!). And don't forget the $103 million. Never forget the $103 million.

There are lots and lots of stories about Game Three but there is one in particular I'd like to share by Jeff Passan about Hideki Okajima: "He needs to touch the parrot," Red Sox reliever Kyle Snyder said. "Who knows what happens if he doesn't?"

Enjoy the..huh? What's that? Is someone waving in the back there? Looks like he's wearing a Rockies uniform. Hey, it's Kaz Matsui!

Actually, I'm just being mean. NHK has tried to make up for lost time (i.e. not airing any of the Rockies play-off games on TV) by replaying every Kaz at-bat several times. Unfortunately, Kaz is 1-8 so far in the World Series with three Ks (one of them to Okajima) and you can only look at multiple angles of strike-outs so many times. I'm sure that Kaz will get more airtime as the Japanese announcers try to milk the fact that he and D-Mat were teammates on the Seibu Lions.

Anyway, enjoy the game!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

All eyes on Daisuke

While the hottest team in baseball (The Colorado Rockies, 21 wins in the last 22 games, including sweeps in both rounds of the play-offs) has been sitting at home since the 15th of October the ALCS is going to a game seven.

Down 3-1 the Red Sox have forced a game seven behind the pitching of Josh Beckett and Curt Schilling and now it's down to one of the biggest signings of 2007.

Daisuke Matsuzaka (15-12 regular season, 0-1 postseason) will face off against Jake Westbrook (6-9, 1-1) for the second time in this series. Westbrook and the Tribe took game three 4-2 and knocked Matsuzaka out after four and 2/3rds innings of work.

D-Mat (not Dice-K) will be under pressure to deliver by the Red Sox Nation. Having someone spend 103 million dollars on you will do that.

Matsuzaka was not quite the sensation everyone expected him to be. Neither was he a bust. He was...just there. He has had control problems throughout the season (80 BB, enough for 6th in the AL although he tempered that with 201 SO, also good for 6th) and he has underwhelmed in the post-season in two starts despite a supposed reputation as a big game pitcher (I don't really know where that rep came from -- the Koshien? In the Japan League?).

Daisuke is also pitching against history. According to one of the announcers during game five (I pre-apologize if this is wrong) no Japanese starter has won during the post-season, going a combined 0-4 over the years.

Hero? Goat? Neither? In about ten hours we shall see.

Personal note: Honestly, I am not that big a fan of the Red Sox. I can't stand Curt Schilling and would have been perfectly fine with the Sox losing game six behind a sub-par effort from Mr. Was-it-really-blood-or-not? And a column of Bill Simmons whining about D-Mat and the Sox would just be annoying. I liked Fever Pitch though (the movie with Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon). Oh, and this: <-- of course this isn't exactly something a Red Sox FAN would want to see (or hasn't seen already). I am a Mets fan after all.

Game Seven of the ALCS will be broadcast in Japan on BS-1 from 9:15 AM Monday morning and on BS-Hi from 9:45.

Related stories:
Howard Bryant at ESPN
Tim Brown at Yahoo! Sports

Other notes:

Kaz Matsui continues the streak of Japanese players making it to the World Series. If the Red Sox make it, that would guarantee there being a third year in a row a Japanese player has won a World Championship.

As of right now, the NHK BS Sports page doesn't have Game Seven listed although the NHK daily TV schedule does but originally had it at 7 in the morning.

The BS live broadcast (whoops) doesn't seem to have the English commentary but the night replay does.

Friday, October 05, 2007

スポーツマンNo.1決定戦XXXVI SPORTSMAN NO.1 18th Geinojin Survival Battle Sort of Live Blog!

SPORTSMAN NO.1 18th Geinojin Survival Battle Sort of Live Blog!

Hey! Nakayama Kinnikun is back! And he wants to re-establish his Geinojin Sportsman No. 1 dominance! That means taking out Wakky!

Live from Tokyo Bay Colosseum! It's wait. It's the 18th Geinojin Survival Battle!

Razor Ramon HG is there! Wow!

1st Battle: Beach Flags! A race to grab a flag! Who is the fastest?

Wakky has the red jersey (denoting your defending champion). Kinnikun has a yellow...I don't know why.
1st Round:
Nomura something something, Tomoyuki, Sato Hiromichi, Dante (the softbank commercial guy), Shiroishi something soccer guy, Morohoshi Hikaru Genji guy, Nakayama Kinnikun.
Head down! Hrm..Sato, Dante, Tomoyuki, Kinnikun and Morohoshi all get flags.

Wakky, HG and a bunch of other guys.
Wakky, HG, guy from that Circus group and some other guys are through.

2nd Round:
Dante, Kinnikun, Morohoshi, Tomoyuki and Sato. Five to three.
Dante, Kinnkun and Tomoyuki are through.

Wakky, HG, Korean guy, two other guys I don't know.
Wakky, not HG and not Korean guy are through.
HG got a bad jump on it.

3rd Round:
6 to 4
Model guy, Wakky, Tomoyuki, Dante, Kinnikun, Yasuda Dai Circus guy
God, I hope they eliminate the guys I don't know so I don't feel so stupid.
I get my wish!
Wakky, Tomoyuki, Dante and Kinnikun are through!

4th Round:
4 to 3
Kinnikun, Wakky, Dante, Tomoyuki
Kinnikun is out! Wakky, Dante and Tomoyuki. Kinnikun was obviously the slowest of the four.

3 to 2
Tomoyuki, Dante, Wakky
Wakky and Tomoyuki are through!
Dante originally went towards Wakky's side then changed to Tomoyuki's. It may have cost him.

2 men enter! 1 man leaves...a beach flag champion!
Wakky vs. Tomoyuki
Here we go! Wait. CMs. Morinaga!

Head down! Whistle! Wakky! Wakky! Wakky by a lot!

Beach Flags No. 1: Wakky!

2nd Battle: Spin Off! There is a giant ball and you have to get it out of the ring on your opponenet's side. Who is the strongest?

Sato Hiromichi vs. Shirai Ryo (Model guy)
Winner: Sato Onisan!

Dante America shushin! vs. Model Tomoyuki
Winner: Tomoyuki in spirited battle!

Nakayama Kinnikun vs. Passion Yarsomething
They've both been Spin Off champions!
Winner: Passion! Passion!
It doesn't look good for Kinnikun's return!

Che Hyon vs. Morohoshi
Winner: Che Hyon!

Wakky vs. Nomura actor guy!
Winner: Wakky!

HG vs. Ishimaru actor guy!
Winner: Ishimaru! Ishimaru!
HG got taken out by an old guy!

2nd Round
Winners: Tomoyuki, Passion, Che Hyon, old man killer Wakky
(Sorry, I got a bit lazy there.)

3rd Round
Tomoyuki vs. Passion Yara?
Winner: Passion!

Che Hyon vs. Wakky!
Winner: Che Hyon! He's tall.

Final: Passion Yara vs. Che Hyon!
I'm slowly getting the names.
Wow! What a back and forth battle! The ball crossed the middle line several times.
Winner: Che Hyon!

Spin Off No. 1: Che Hyon!

Wakky is still number 1.

Oh god. Everyone, take a break RIGHT NOW. Eat dinner. Send e-mail. Paint that garage you've been meaning to do for ages because it's that time suck vortex known as the Monster Box.

Battle No. 3: Monster Box
I'm not going to do play by play here until later; I'm sorry but things don't heat up until about the 16 box point. And they're starting at 11.
I will, however, comment on how awkward HG looked as he took his first try.
At least Iketani Naoki isn't here to make the whole deal pretty much a foregone conclusion. Until Tomoyuki arrived on the scene, Iketani dominated the Monster Box like no other. Like Iketani, Tomoyuki has a gymnastics background and it gives both of them the form and timing to really kick some Monster Box butt.
While I was typing all that, Ishimaru, Dancho (Yasudadai Circus guy), HG and..Kinnikun didn't clear 13 boxes. Masaka Kinnikun! I think he's rusty.

Shiraishi Gamba Soccer guy is our first run into the box and not even make a jump guy.

Passion is out at 13. Next is 15. Until 16 or 17 you have only one chance at clearing. After that, you have two tries to clear. The "World Record" is 23 boxes.

Oy vey. Wakky is out at 15! Well, actually 11. That actually means that Kinnikun finishes with a higher Monster Box score than Wakky. Tomoyuki is number 2 in total points so if he just gets close to his personal best (22 - he has done 23 but it's not officially recognized by the World Monster Box Association Alliance of the Universe) he'll take the lead.

Morohoshi is getting fired up! He's a cocky one.

We're into two try territory (17 boxes)! Morohoshi, Shirai, Che Hyon, Dante (mondainai), Sato and Tomoyuki are your participants.

Only Sato Hiromichi clears 17 on the first try. (Tomoyuki passed I think)

Morohoshi is out! He should have worn the skates. So is Dante. Che Hyon is through. Shirai is out as we get a "nice" look at Tomoyuki's man parts (how's THAT for a potential google hit?)

18 - Sato Hiromichi, Che Hyon and Tomoyuki

Sato and Che Hyon fail on their first try. Tomoyuki passes.

Sato and Che Hyon both fail on their second try. All Tomoyuki has to do is pass once at any height from now on and he's your No. 1

He's going for 20! It's traditionally the point where it gets REALLY hard. But it's not! He had air to spare! Kirei na!

Whoa! He's going for the record! Right now! On TBS! And this is in a competition so it will be recognized by the World Monster Box Association Alliance of the Universe! Aka no zone!

If he clears this, he'll be with Iketani and a bunch of Olympic medal winning gymnasts.

1st Try! Muscle Musical leader Tomoyuki! NO!

I guess he only gave it one go.

Monster Box No. 1: Tomoyuki

Tomoyuki is in the lead now by about 60 points.

Battle No. 4: Muscle Gym - Sit ups, sort of reverse sit ups and push ups. One minute of each.

1st group: HG, Nomura, Ishimaru, Shiraishi
Ishimaru with 218! His nose is red from hitting the button so much!

2nd group: Dancho, Kinnikun, Morohoshi, Shirai Ryo
After this battle you have to be in the top six to keep going. I think.
Shirai has 232. Kinnikun has 227.

3rd group: Dante, Passion Yara, Sato Hiromichi
Dante is not really built for this kind of event. Hiromichi onisan is. He has 229. Passion has 209 and Dante 167.

4th group: Wakky, Che Hyon, Tomoyuki
CMs before we hit the final minute.
Poor Che Hyon is an afterthought right now. Jeez, they're hitting that button like mad. The last thirty seconds are the mark of a true champion. Tomoyuki! 241! Wakky! 222!

Muscle Gym No. 1: Tomoyuki!

Kinnikun is edged out by Passion Yara for the final spot.

Battle No. 5: Shot-Gun-Touch! You have to touch a ball dropped from the ceiling before it hits the mat.

Tomoyuki, Wakky, Che Hyon, Sato Hiromichi, Shirai Ryo and Passion Yara are your finalists.

The winner gets a new car!

Passion and Shirai get their first chance but Sato misses. Che Hyon at 12m. Shippai!

Wakky's first attempt is at 12m for 75 points (the farther you are, the more points you get). He's got it!

He's still 45 points short but because Che Hyon missed he's moved into 2nd.

Tomoyuki just has to not miss I think to keep things going for himself. His first attempt is 11m60cm. NO!

He's still in the lead though. Contestants have a total of three attempts. If you miss early you have to go farther back to make up the lost ground.

2nd attempts for Sato, Passion and Che Hyon go awry. Shirai moves 30 points from first and into 2nd.

Wakky is pumped! He's going for 12m again to take the lead. YES! The pressure is on Tomoyuki. Wakky is now in the lead by 30. If Tomoyuki makes this it'll all be down to the last attempt.

Tomoyuki is going for 11m60cm again as we go to commercial.

We're back!



Tomoyuki is back in the lead. Don't know what happened in the first attempt but he nailed the second.

The higher Wakky goes, the higher Tomoyuki will have to go to beat him.

3rd attempt for Sato doesn't go so he'll be sixth with 185 points..

Passion hits a personal best at 11m80cm which puts him at 4th with 265.

Che too tall. Like Dante he can't quite get the timing down. He'll be 5th with 210 points.

Shirai is still alive at third. He's going for 12m40cm. Yes! Wait...let's go to the ULTRA SLOW. NO! The ball hit first. Shirai will be third. He's crying. He'll finish with 310 points.

Wakky! He's going for a personal best at 12m20cm. That means Tomoyuki has to go for 11m80cm, his current personal best to beat Wakky.

Wow, Wakky is one serious guy when it comes to this. CMs.

Wakky, going for 12m20cm for 95 points and the lead.

HERE HE GOES! YES! PERSONAL BEST! AND THE LEAD! He pretty much caught the ball. Itazo!

It all comes down to this! Wakky has 455. Tomoyuki has 395. Tomoyuki is going for 11m80cm. That will be 65 points and the title if he makes it.

Here he goes! YES! Commercial.

We're back.

Replay. Wait..did he get it? NO! He had the distance but he had his head down and the ball landed on the SIDE of him.

So your champion...WAKKY! He gets the yellow jersey and the car!

Final standings:

6. 185 points 佐藤弘道 Sato Hiromichi
5. 210 points チェ・ヒョノ Che Hyon
4. 265 points パッション屋良 Passion Yara
3. 310 points 白井涼 Shirai Ryo
2. 395 points 知幸 Tomoyuki
1. 455 points ワッキー Wakky

Event standings:
Beach Flags: ワッキー Wakky
Spin Off: チェ・ヒョノ Che Hyon
Monster Box: 知幸 Tomoyuki (20)
Muscle Gym: 知幸 Tomoyuki (244)
Shot-Gun-Touch: ワッキー Wakky

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

MLB Play-Offs and Japan

Well, the Major League Baseball season has concluded and my sort-of-beloved Mets imploded and went from first in the NL East to sitting on their butts at home. But in Japan, there is still something to look forward to since a total of 6 Japanese players are on play-off bound teams:
Boston Red Sox: Pitchers D-Mat-not-Dice-K and Hideki Okajima
New York Yankees: Outfielder Hideki Matsui and pitcher Kei Igawa (Igawa is not on the 25 man active roster though)
Colorado Rockies: Infielder Kazuo Matsui
Philadelphia Phillies: Infielder Tadahito Iguchi

D-Mat, Okajima and Igawa are in their first year with MLB so this is their first time in the MLB play-offs. Kaz Matsui is also playing in his first play-off series since he was traded by the Mets before the end of the season when they won the NL East in 2006.

Hideki Matsui has ample play-off experience with the Yankees who have made the play-offs every year he has played for them.

Tadahito Iguchi was the first everyday Japanese player to win a World Series ring when he played the White Sox in 2005.

Of course like the American media, most of the games being aired on NHK BS 1 are the ones involving the Red Sox and Yankees. Sorry on behalf of NHK to all those Colorado and Philly fans.

Other stats:
At least one Japanese player has made it to play-offs every year so far this decade.

If any one of these players wins the World Series it would mark the third year in a row a Japanese player has been on a World Champion (Iguchi in '05 and Taguchi in '06).

There has been at least one Japanese player on a World Series team since 2002.

For more up-to-date news on how your favorite Japanese player is doing, go to Japanese Ball Players for daily news and stats. Oh, and also, sorry on behalf of MLB to Korean and Taiwanese baseball fans since they get their players kind of squashed into the side of the Japanese Ball Players page.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Ube woman kills sleeping husband with bat and kitchen knife

Wow. No English translations yet so you'll have to take my word for it.
Ube-shi Higashikiwa resident Toshio Nagai (61) died from wounds to the head and neck that he received after being attacked by his wife Kazuko (59) in his sleep on September 30th.
While Mr. Nagai was sleeping his wife hit him in the head with a metal baseball bat and stabbed him in the neck with a kitchen knife. He was found by relatives who then called the police.
Mrs. Nagai was taken in by the police. She admits to hitting her husband but denies having stabbed him.

Sponichi Annex story
Nikkan Sports story
Chugoku Shimbun Online story
FNN story with video

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

新 SASUKE 秋! The Sort of Live Blog! American Ninja Warriors and SASUKE All-Stars oh my!

Update: Japan Probe has some clips of the competition up here.

It's the Shin-SASUKE Fall 2007 sort of live blog! What did we learn from the last two live blogs I did? One lesson is that I need to do a bit more research before the blog because it was hell trying to figure out what was what. We've got a bit of inside info from the Bengoshi SASUKE~! so I have some idea of how the first stage is laid out. Hope you don't get edited out Bengoshi! Oh, and the other lesson I learned is don't hold down the shift button too long or stuff will happen to your keyboard.

Here we go!

Y'know, TBS gives a lot away during the opening credits. Way to build suspense guys.

No race this year. Perhaps it took too long? First Ninja Warriors sighting! Paul ANTHONY Terek! Nagasaki brothers!

Version up!

1 - Suidokyoku (Water Works) guy! He's stretching! The Sextuple Steps is back because apparently too many people got hurt on the Rope Glider. Log Grip and Pole Maze are no problem. Jumping Spider is!

2 - Yamashita something something! He can tear a comic book! And not one of those twenty page American ones. It doesn't help! He falls on the Log Grip.

6 - He's from Ghana! He's a model! Log Grip! No! He falls Ghanian butt first into the water.

8 - The son of a Yokozuna! Kitano something or other. I'm bad with the names this year. Log Grip! Your father should disown you!!!!

9 - Choshu Korikki! His number is falling off. He takes a GIANT fall off the steps into the water! Let's see that again.

Next guy has no number. He's some sort of doctor? He's got nurse supporters! Log Grip! Okay! Pole Maze! No! The pole hit a bar and he went flying off!

Next guy is a weight lifter! He smashes an apple! IT DOESN'T HELP! He falls into the water.

Next up is a female beach football player! She's 30 (her age, not number). Steps are okay! Log Grip is up next! FUMBLE! Or she fell off. Take your pick.

Capoeira (or however you spell it) guy! NO! He lets down all his students! He then dances himself into the mud. He was number 27 btw.

Next up! Lance Tapend! Or whatever! He teaches at an international school! He's got students there. That's never a good sign. Up to the Pole Maze! Some problems but he's through. Jumping Spider! Airball! He got up into the air but never connected. His students are shocked! But no crying. Darn. He was number 28.

Digest time! A masked wrestler, female futsal player, comedian, some guy named TATSUJI! and some other guy hit the water. The wrestler was Flying Kid something something.

30 is the Guitar Samurai! Yamaguchi-ken represent! Steps are okay! Log Grip! And much like Abe Shinzo, he lets Yamaguchi down.

We skip ahead annnnnnnd...

42 is the BENGOSHI SASUKE! He's wearing a suit! And has a sign! He's off! Log problem! Pole Maze! OKAY! Jumping Spider....he's up..NO!. Good try though Lenny! Give us more inside info next time!

Next is that really creepy guy that makes the models. He usually goes a step and then falls! PERSONAL BEST! He makes it two steps before hitting the water.

OCTOPUS GUY! Heh, there's an octopus waiting for him on the red button. He here goes! We have 115 seconds for the first stage by the way. Steps! OK! Log Grip! OK! Pole Maze coming up. WHOA! WAIT! He's still on the pole. He's trying to go back to get his balance. OK! One more try? He's trying to get his balance. Cut to the last ten seconds and he's still on the pole. Time up! The octopus is lonely.

Next is the glider guy (where are the numbers?). He's stuck between the last two steps! He tries to jump for it! NO! Heh. Some dude in a red shirt thinks that was HILARIOUS.

More digest time!

Some guy, a trucker, some comedian, a guy wearing a gymnastics uniform all strike out.

43 - Minami Yoshihiro! He's a stunt man! He's been on Mito Komon! Steps and Log Grip are no problem! Pole Maze! OKAY! Jumping Spider....whoa! He was stuck and then bounced back and flipped on the platform! SASUGA ACTION HAIYU! He's the first to the new area! The Half-Pipe Attack! NO! So the Half-Pipe Attack is a curved wall off which you must jump and grab a rope. He didn't quite have his footing.

The veterans are a bit concerned.

47 - Is Matsuda something or other! He qualified via Muscle Park! Man, I need to go there. He has a sash! Steps and Log Grip are no problem. Pole Maze up. OK! Jumping Spider. He takes a breath. Yes! He's through. Half-Pipe...He's got the rope! NO!

Darn. He had potential.

48 - He...umm..he's having wardrobe problems. He can't get his pants over his shoes! He's going for it anyway! First step and no! He still has his pants around his ankles as he comes out of the water. Let's see that again! Wow, lesson to be learned by everyone. Wear a costume that comes off easily. That'll be hard to live down at the office. Hey, someone else was in the water too? Heh. A camera man wiped out as it was happening. Someone at TBS has a sense of humour as a kind of Benny Hill music is playing in the background.

As he walks away his pants are still around his ankles.

Fifty have tried! Fifty have failed!

51 - Is G4 Ninja Warrior Bret Simms! He practiced with the All-Stars at Shiratori's place! CMs.

We're back!

Steps and Log Grip are no problem. Pole Maze! OK! Jumping Spider! Here he goes! He's UP!


He couldn't keep his grip.


His free G4 t-shirt got wet! But he really enjoyed it!

55 - Misaki something! He's a teacher. His students have been on SASUKE JUNIOR! He's off. Steps. Log Grip. Pole Maze. Jumping Spider. He had some trouble with this in his video. Here he goes! HEAD FIRST INTO THE WATER! Way to go, teach!

Next up is reaction geinojin Degawa! He gets the spray from Mister SASUKE! That's an automatic fail. LOG GRIP! NO! Why'd he take his shirt off before that? He wasn't very serious about the whole thing.

57 - He's a university student who wants to be a pro boxer! Steps, Log Grip and Pole Maze are no problem! Jumping Spider! Yes! He has potential. Can he do it? Half Pipe! Yes! He's up to the Wall! First chance! Yes! Flying Chute! Yes! Tobimashita! Time is precious though! D'oh! CMs.

Rich donuts! So where do the poor donuts go?

Suzy and Mark? Huh?

We're back! Jikan ga nai! Rope Ladder! Will he be...NO! TIME-UP!

The All-Stars are worried!

0 for 70!

71 - He's 15! He'll be the coolest kid in school if he makes it! Man, where do people find the space and time to make the obstacles in their homes? Steps and Log Grip are okay! Pole Maze! He's stuck! He can't get it! He's too light I think. Wait! Okay! He either doesn't have the strength or the weight to move the bar. Finally! Jumping Spider! Yes! Can he do it? It will be close. Half-Pipppp...He slips!

77 - Nagasaki Takamasa! Will he be the first! He says he'll be the first like last time! Steps and Log Grip are no problem! Pole Maze! Jumping Spider! Sugoi speed! Half- Pipe Attack is no problem! He's up to the wall but then I get a commercial for 7-11!

We're back! First! Second. No! Third! Yes! Flying Chute! NO!!!!!!!! He missed the rope! I guess he was wrong. Nagasaki brothers! Shunsuke is worried.

79 - 3% body fat Yamada Koji! Steps and Log Grip are no problem. Pole Maze! OK! Jumping Spider! YES! Orange pants! Half-Pipe Attack! NO PROBLEM! The Wall is up! First try! Flying Chute! YES! WAIT! He can't reach the ladder! YES HE DOES! IS HE GOING TO DO IT! 18 seconds left. Rope ladder! Ten seconds! YES! With four seconds left! After 79 people we get our first through!

The rope must be a bit farther away from the ladder on the Flying Chute or something.

81 - Our first All-Star! Yamamoto Shingo! Steps and Log Grip are no problem. Pole Maze! Whoa! Abunai! He takes a second chance at it. He's through. Jumping Spider. Yes! NO! He got into the space and then couldn't hold it.

Yamamoto Shingo masaka!

82 - Our next All-Star! Shiratori Bunpei! He builds! He's added a Salmon Ladder to his set. Nagano gives him encouragement! 1 for 81 so far! Here he goes! Steps, Log Grip are okay! Some problem with the Pole Maze but he's through. Jumping Spider! YES! Half-Pipe Attack! Yes! Here come the Wall! No! Once more! No! Less than 30 seconds! He looks tired! Yes! He's got it but he's tired! Time is running out! Flying Chute! Time UP! Just as he hits the rope! Oy vey.

The All-Stars are worried.

He drops himself into the water.

84 - Takahashi Kenji! He reached the third stage last time. As I said then, he's unhandsome. I'm no model but...anyway, Steps and Log Grip are okay! Pole Maze! OKAY! Jumping Spider! Ye..NO! His left leg wasn't up in time. You have to get your body just right.

More people don't make it. Four to be exact.

86 - Motor-cross rider Washimi Yuuji! He didn't get past the Salmon Ladder last time. It's time for revenge! Steps and Log Grip are no problem. Pole Maze...OK. Jumping Spider! OK! Half-Pipe Attack! OK! A kyu rider! Wall! FIRST TRY! Lots of time left! Flying Chute! YES! Can he make it two? Rope Ladder! He's up! Time is going red! YES! 3.2 seconds left! WE HAVE TWO!

87 - American's Colin Bell! The G4 winner! Steps are fine! Log Grip and Pole Maze no problem! Jumping Spider!



Wow, I think the G4 Ninja Warrior forum members will not be very happy.

I wish I could have practiced the Jumping Spider more!

91 - Here we go! Mister SASUKE! Yamada Katsumi! Jinsei SASUKE!
Before he starts let us re-live his recent past failures.
Only two of the ninety. Can he do it? If he falls on the steps I don't know if I'll be able to complete this live blog.
Here he goes! Whoa! He did stumble a bit there. Log Grip! CMs.

September 23rd. Doors! It's a kind of obstacle course for geinojin. I believe they are in teams of four? Anyway, it's not nearly as phsyically taxing as SASUKE.

We're back! First two obstacles again. Pole Maze! Problems! He has to try again. He's limping! Second try. He's stuck! Time is running out! He's smiling! At HIS OWN FAILURE! Twenty seconds left and he's finally on to the Jumping Spider.
YAMADA KATSUMIIIIIIII! That wasn't quite as satisfying since you knew he wasn't going to finish the first stage anyway. That was, I have to say, a new low point in the career of Mister SASUKE.

Three All-Stars! Three failures!

Takeda! You're up! He's been practicing the Salmon Ladder.

96 - Takeda! He's off! He's got rhythmic clapping! Steps, Log Grip no problem! The Pole Maze! He takes two tries to get it. Jumping SPIDER! Tonda! Tonda! His pants are orange! Half-Pipe Attack! Clear! The wall! NO! Second time. NO! Third! NO! Saigo no chance! NO! Twenty seconds! He's got it! But the time has gone red!


Four All-Stars! Four failures.

What's going on?

97 - Nagasaki Shunsuke! Steps! Okay. His brother is looking on! Log Grip and Pole Maze are no problems. Jumping Spider! The crowd ooohs! Sasuga trampoline players! Half-Pipe Attack! No problem. Wall is no problem! Flying Chute! Whoa! Abunai!


Wow. Again.


We're back. He missed the rope ladder to climb down. Wow. And we thought KUNOICHI was hard this year.

Nagasaki Brothers fall victim to the Flying Chute.

97 participants. 2 have cleared.

98 - PAUL! ANTHONY! TEREK! He's your Sportsman No. 1 in case you didn't know. He's off! King of Athletes! Pole Maze is NO PROBLEM! Cool. Jumping Spider! AHHHHHHHHH!

His foot slipped. His left foot didn't land cleanly and it cost him.

99 - Sato Hiromichi. He's the host of Muscle Channel. His son is there. As we all know, that's never a good sign. Only two people left! CMs.

Unilever! If you're old, they'll help your hair. Proage!

We're back! Whoa! Not the cleanest of starts. Log Grip. D'oh! His son is very confused. Log Grip masaka retire!

Man, this first stage is a KILLER. Well, at least he can always practice at Muscle Park. Note that the first stage is the part that people rarely put together some elaborate course for (aside from Bunpei). Nor are you able to practice for it at Muscle Park.

100 - Nagano Makoto! The pressure is on him! He carries the weight of the All-Stars on his shoulders. Can he do it! He's off! Steps. Log Grip. Pole Maze. Jumping Spider coming up. No problem. Half-Pipe Attack. The Wall is no problem. Flying Chute coming up! CMs!

We're back! Flying Chute!



Five All-Stars. Five failures. Wow.

2nd Stage.

80 seconds to complete. There's one new area, the Skywalk.

Yamada is up first. Diving Jump is no problem. Salmon Ladder. CMs.

KUNOICHI only had four make the Second Stage and only one person made it to the Third Stage. Will anyone even make the Third Stage this time?

We're back. Uh oh. OKAY! Back on track. Last step of the ladder. Time is running out! Masaka Yamada! The time is going red! TIME-UP! His children are suitably shocked. One misplacement of the bar just threw off his rhythm.

And then there was one.

Motor-cross rider Yuji is last. Here he goes! He's up to the Salmon Ladder. He carries everyone's hopes on his shoulders. He's up to the last step! No! One more try. No! Time is running out! He has to go for it! NO!!!!!!!!!!!

Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow.

98 victims in the first stage, including all five All-Stars, the American Ninjas and Paul ANTHONY Terek.

2 victims in the second stage, both to the Salmon Ladder.

The course, quite frankly, kicked everyone in the head.


This is what the Spring SASUKE should have been like. The course should have been too hard (as opposed to too dangerous). Enough people reached the 2nd and 3rd stages to give everyone (the competitors and the fans) a kind of false hope that reaching the final was not that far away. This brings everyone (including the All-Stars) back down to earth. Will some people get discouraged? Of course they will. But those who really want to compete will come back with more fire next time. That should make the next competition very very interesting to watch.

Oh, and in the long run the Ninja Warrior guys did not do all that bad considering the overall rate of success and it would be a shame if G4 didn't give them another crack at it.

See everyone for the next competition!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

KUNOICHI 2007 Sort of live blog!

Tanaka! Mizuno! Limbo dancers! Sumo wrestlers! Gaijin! AKB48! Can Miyake make it four in a row? It's KUNOICHI 2007!

EDIT: Go to Japan Probe where they've uploaded some KUNOICHI videos!

First Stage!
90 seconds to complete.
1 - Soccer player! She's through the first few obstacles. In the second area you have to press a button before going on. Don't know what that's about. Log roll! No!

2 - Hula dancer Chakki! (Chucky?) First obstacle through. NO!

3 - Chinese acrobat! She's flexible! D'oh! She eats the dirt!

4 - Marathon runner! She's in a CM! NO! Maniauwanai!

5 - Korean comedian is the first to wipe out on the first obstacle.

10 - some actress as some people don't get their day in the sun. have to press the button to set off the sort of Log Grip obstacle and cross in time to grab it.

11 - Female football player. NO! Perhaps ditch the uniform next time. She's a footballer!
Four random ladies wipe out.

14 - Our first race queen! Nope! Cameramen prepare for your wet t-shirt shot!
I haven't watched Kunoichi in a while. Has it always looked like a recycled SASUKE course?

18 - She's a surfer! Oh wait, charisma model. Hmmm..if you're fast enough you don't have to use the spring board. Four more ladies get the

19 - Ummm...52 year old limbo dancer. And she can't get past the first obstacle. That'

20 - Maid wipes out.

21 - Oh my..Female sumo wrestler Satake Hiromi. She's wiped out on the first obstacle before. Can she do it?!?! She's going veeeeeery slowly...NO!

Can we say she made a big splash?

No number rock climber is next! NO! Wait, she's number 26 which means we skipped five.

28 - Jietai member! Can she bring glory to the SDF?! Chotto osoi! Hashire! AHHH!

In theory, I guess you could TRY to jump across.

29 - Lori Christensen! She's with the military! Here she goes! NO! Thus goes the war on terror.

30 - Another Muscle Musical member! She's almost finished the first stage three times, reaching the final climb but never getting there in time! Can she do it! NO! She didn't get as close as the button. Miyake is nervous!

Five ladies, including two members of AKB48 get their day in the sun..or water as the case may be.

37 - Sakamoto Mariko! She has a sister? She makes it past the first two. There is clapping for her! Bridge is no problem! Barrel ro..NO!

40 - Ozawa Misaki steals Miyake's old look with the pink hair! She keeps slipping but she's through! Barrel ro..NO!! Darn, it looked like she had potential.

Recap of the road of various qualifiers.

41 - She works in a cabaret club! She's wearing a tiara! She has supporters! They're well dressed...NO!

42 - Iwasaki Yumi! She's 17. She plays baseball! Speed arimasu! OUTOOOOOOOOOOO!

Next is one of her teammates (no number). A basketball player (no number). Wait. The basketball player is number 44.

YMCA qualifier! NO!

0 for 45!

Matsuri onna! Is that a full-time job?


It's good time! Yamaguchi Nissan!

46 - Matsuri onna the first! She's cautious! That second obstacle is taking lots of people out!

47 - Matsuri onna the second! NO!

48 - Matsuri onna the last! Go! Shoko! No! (I did not plan that).

The announcer is wearing a shirt that hurts my eyes.

Hugging! avex has an artist academy?

49 - Umeda Haruka! avex artist academy member! She's been to Muscle Park!!

50 - Kimura Kozue! Another avex artist academy attendee! (I planned that on!) The black mat means out! Komuro is so going to fire you!

Damn that announcers shirt is making my eyes hurt.

Four more ladies wipe out. Sexy queen no!

It's the mother-daughter team! The family the trains together stays together!

No one has cleared yet! 51 is mom, 52 is the daughter.

51 - Mama-san power! Haha Yuko Iku! Haha Yuko Iku! Haha YUKO! HAHA YUKO IS STUCK IN THE BRIDGE! Barrel roll! She's slipped here before! The time is going red! She passed the barrel roll but she ran out of time.

52 - Higashi daughter! Oh, Higashi Rena. WHOA! She's through to the barrel roll. Go! AHHHHHHHH! She eats the yellow post as she missed the trampoline. And I mean she went face first into the post. There are tears of failure! Okay, it wasn't that bad in the slo-mo.

53 - Jyu-yon-sai! Oh wait. Jyu-sai. She's 10! No!

55 - Marathon runner! Umm..okay. Olympic runner goes swimming!

60 - She's a caddy! She's energetic! She's got similarly clothed supporters. That never ends well. AND IT DOESN'T! She kind of trips on the springboard.

Takeda! Nagano! SASUKE All-Stars are backstage! I feel bad for the girl that Mr. SASUKE trained.

61 - Okamoto Sayaka! She works for Yamamoto Shingo! She's cleared the first stage before. NO! Shingo isn't there but I bet he's disappointed.

62 - Takeda's protege is Oshima Keiko! Ike! Ike! Yeah, no pressure there guys. Barrel roll. Okay! NO! She does an Akiyama and missteps on the trampoline.

63 - Nagano's Kunoichi! Something Kaori. would've been better if she hadn't leaned on the springboard like that. Let's start random rumors! Perhaps she and Nagano are seeing each other!

64 - Next is Mister SASUKE's Kunoichi. Onoda Momoko! She's some kind of instructor. If she listened to his advice she'll fail. If she pretended to listen to him, she'll be fine. What is a duke's walk? Barrel roll! She's doing the best so far. Commercials. Mmmm...Kamen Rider V3 pachinko. Rider Man!

We're back! Face first into the yellow post! She must have listened to Mr. SASUKE.

The SASUKE All-Stars Kunoichis all fail!

Six more ladies find failure, with one especially cool looking elimination where she gets her foot caught in the bridge and flips all the way over.

71 - Marathon runner Tanigawa Mari! No! She made it farther than the last runner though.

76 - A gravure idol! She can do the splits! First couple obstacles! Barrel roll! She slips! And falls! And flips! Hitori backdrop!

Still no one has cleared.

77 - Pro-surfer Kitagawa! She's tan. She's cleared the first stage before. Hayai! She slips on the bridge! Mada daijoubu! NO! She rips off part of the bridge for good measure.

80 - Komiya Rie! She's reached the final before but couldn't get it. She's off! No problems so far. Sasuga Komiya! Barrel roll. OK! Oof! Will she be the first! She hits the yellow post but holds on. CMs.

We're back. She's through! Angled walls! Rope ladder! Lots of time left! Button! She's the first to clear the first stage! The crowd cheers!

81 - Shape-Up Girls! Nakajima! No! She slips!

82 - Another former finalist! Mori Yoko! She's off! NO! She couldn't get her footing! Sugoi shock!

86 - Arm-wrestler Kawamura Mika! She's off! She's a world-champion arm-wrestler. No problems thus far. Barrel roll! OK! Face first into the yellow post! Mean yellow post! Unforgiving yellow post!

87 - Yamamoto Satomi! She's a pro-golfer! Balance wa ii! We get an...interesting shot when she's on the bridge. Barrel roll! So far so good! THE UNFORGIVING YELLOW POST STRIKES AGAIN! I'll just say that 2chers will probably have some nice pictures later.

88 - Another Muscle Musical member. There are many Muscle Musical members. NO! There is one less Muscle Musical member.

90 - Abe Asami! She's a gyaru! Sonene and Amimi VTR her luck! First obstacle wipe out! Natsumi isn't there but I bet she's sad.

I think they must have given out numbers but not everyone made it.

91 - Tanaka Maho is next! She reached the final last time! She's off! No problems so far. Unforgiving Yellow Post is forgiving. Angled wall! Rope ladder! Machigainai! No problems whatsoever.

92 - Nishimura Chie! She's the only woman to have cleared the first stage of SASUKE and judging from the clips she did it with verve. She was a stuntwoman I believe. No problems so far. Her family is here! Barrel roll is iffy but she's through! Unfo..yeah, she's through. Angled wall. Akai button ni! Rope ladder! Time to spare!

93 - Pro-surfer Taniguchi Erina! Hayai! Bridge! NO! She eats wall.

96 - Olympic canoer! NO! Her daughter is sad.

Reaching the climax!

97 - Takeuchi Asami! She's an aerobics instructor and one of those people you see on ESPN early in the morning doing that competitive aerobics stuff. Which doesn't help!

Mizuno Yuko is worried. Last san-nin!

98 - Mizuno Yuko! She's like Mr. SASUKE. She's had early success with Kunoichi but she's stunk up the joint since. She's the Geinokai No. 1 Athlete. So far so good! Unlike Mr. SASUKE, I don't have any hate in my heart for Yuko. Commercials!


99 is Diana Pickler! SHE HOPES TO BE NUMBER FOUR! She's trying to follow in the footsteps of Paul ANTHONY Terek I guess. NO! WAIT! No no. She slipped on the post but held on and tried to climb back up but couldn't.

It was harder than I thought!

100 - Ayako Miyake! Can she do it once again? Miss Perfect! If Curt Henning were still alive he'd sue! Here she goes! Whooo...a little misstep there. First few obstacles no problem! Rope ladder climb problem! Time to spare!

And then there were four!

Second Stage!
Aside from Miyake, two of the others have reached the final stage before.

Komiya Rie is up first. They have 65 seconds. Speed is the key! No! She can't reach the platform from the ladder!

The ladder swings a bit so I think they'll have to do a slight swing towards the platform to make it.

There's no crying in basebal..oh wait.

Let us relive her shame again. They have to fill the two hours somehow with only four people making the next stage.

Smoke makes everything look mysterious!

Snowboarder and prior competition finalist Tanaka Maho is up next! Here we go! Slide is no problem. Balls and log are no problem. Ladder climb is up next...can she do it? Okay! Seventeen seconds left. Last pole to cross! A moment to set problem. And not with much time to spare! About 3.8 seconds left when she hits the button.

Nishimura Chie is up next! She's a mom! Her family is there! Small children...wonder if they'll be crying? I'm mean, I know. Nothing more soothing than a child's tears! Here we go! She's through the first three! Trying the ladder. No problem! Pole cross...First okay! Second okay! Third...the clock is going red! And...oh...commercials. Fuwa fuwa!

We're back...She slips a bit on the last pole! It costs her! TIME UP!!! Gomen ne..

I think she was too cautious at the beginning and it cost her. Her children are strangely unaffected by her failure.

Is it me or does Miyake seem...a bit spaced out most of the time?

Miyake is off! She has the support of the Muscle Musical members! All the way to the pole cross! No problems so far! Last pole! The time is going red! Jikan! Commercials! King Kaz has a car!

We're back! Last pole! Jikan ga nai! Jikan ga nai!



Miyake Ayako takes her first dip in the water since 2004.

Everyone is shocked. Kuyashi....

Her right hand missed the vertical pole and that was all she wrote.

Not to detract from the shock of Miyake falling but they still have about fifteen minutes left to fill and only one competitor left.

Third Stage!

Here she goes! No time limit in this stage. First obstacle. She has to jump from small platform to platform. First two. Third! One foot misses but she's safe. Going for the fourth. It's a bigger jump than the others. She's taking her time and getting herself ready. She's through!

Next obstacle. They've added some rounded steps to the end of the domino walk thing. More commercials.

Here we go...She's through the blue. Green..yellow..NOOOOOOOO! Ato yon mai!

Perhaps the pressure got to her? She says she was a bit nervous. The mood is a bit...well, when you realize that the last three competitions ended with Miyake finishing the course this is a bit of a let down. Will this lead to an earlier KUNOICHI? One can only hope!

As the credits roll we take a look at the Final Stage.

As we go we get our first official commercial for the next SASUKE!

See everyone in two weeks!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Attention SASUKE Lovers! 新SASUKE 2007秋 (SASUKE 2007 Fall) air date announced?

Well, going through the Japanese Wikipedia SASUKE page brings up this little tidbit at the end of the ratings chart:
第19回大会 2007年 (18:55 - 20:54 9月19日放送予定。)
19th Competition 2007 (18:55 - 20:54 September 19th Broadcast airdate)

Woo hoo!

Not only that, but the next Kunoichi date has been announced and the page is already up at TBS here.
Kunoichi will be shown on September 5th from 6:55 PM. Contestants this year are Ayako Miyake (who has completed the course three times), Yuko Mizuno (sort of the Kunoichi Mr. SASUKE except she has a real job -- kind of), Asami Abe and many others.

Don't know if I'm going to do a live blog (depends on my schedule) but I will be posting results and pictures as soon as I can!

Also, G4, which airs SASUKE in the states as Ninja Warrior has been holding a contest to decide which one of their viewers will be their "American Ninja." The board regulars are not exactly kind to the contestants.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Ube Maji-watch 2007! Part II! Let someone else do the work! 宇部のアザラシのマジちゃん

So...Maji-chan (I guess it's official now) is still around and now the city has a homepage for him:
They've got pictures!
They've got a map!
Also, if you have any photos of Maji-chan, send them here:
The Ube Nippo, your semi-daily source of Maji-chan news, has a nicer map here.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

みんなのうた: おしりかじり虫 Minna no uta: Oshirikajirimushi

Minna no uta is a daily NHK program that's been running since 1961. The show (which is only five minutes long) rotates several songs each month. Sometimes, the songs take on lives of their own. One was done by Lou Oshiba, MOTTAINAI ~もったいない~ (thanks to youtube user dora1122):

Oshiba is hoping to sing this song at the Red and White Songfest.

One of last month's songs was おしりかじり虫 (Oshirikajirimushi) which is the bug that bites bottoms. It's a bit...strange.

Thanks to youtube user ajibee

What do you think?

You can get more info on the song here and here.

The monthly Minna no uta schedule can be seen here.

Ube Maji-watch 2007! アザラシのマジちゃん

So Ube + summer vacation + a seal = Maji-watch 2007!

Quick follow-up to this story.

Today I went down to the Majime River and lo and behold! a whole bunch of other people had the same idea resulting in a slight traffic hazard.

Since "Maji-chan" (Its name isn't official yet -- rumour has it someone in the City Office wanted to name it Ube-chan, which is ten million times worse than Maji-chan. Also, I'm sticking to Maji-chan because it's a better name than Dice-K) has popped up twice people around town are rushing to get a quick glimpse.

Actually, I got the briefest of glimpses today of Maji-chan. Maji-chan's head popped up for a few seconds while I was down by the river. But I wasn't able to get a picture of our little scamp because it was so sudden and my mobile phone skills are sorely lacking in speed. Ah well.


I don't know if this woman was sitting there to see Maji-chan or she was just resting because there's no way she would be able to get up to the fence in time. Or she's really spry. I don't know. Look, it's hot these days, okay?