Monday, June 16, 2008

Lost in Onoda Sun Park 小野田サンパーク

Not much exciting happens in Ube (part of the reason I like it here). Even less happens in the next town over, Ono..excuse me, Sanyo-Onoda (山陽小野田). Fun fact: before Onoda merged with Sanyo Ube really wanted to merge with - or, since Ube is bigger than Onoda, eat up - Onoda but the Onoda residents refused.

Anyway, one of the big things to happen in the last month in either city is the re-opening of Onoda Sun Park. Last week Sunday I went to check it out.

I went there by train and promptly got off to a rip roaring start by getting off at the wrong station. Not a problem though. Minami Onoda 南小野田 is only a bit farther to walk than Minami Nakagawa 南中川 and it gave me the opportunity to get some photos of the fun times had by the people driving there:

Someone later told me that they waited an hour to get a parking space. Fun!

I wish I had some pictures of the old Sun Park. Needless to say, the new Sun Park is all shiny and new:

Since it was Sunday, the place was packed (relatively speaking. This is Yamaguchi after all.) Also, it's hard to see from the pictures, but the place is really big (again, Yamaguchi big) and it took ages to walk around to see all the different stores:

One of the big draws at the new Sun Park is that it has the second Starbucks to open in Yamaguchi prefecture (the other being in Shimonoseki):

A couple of other things caught my eye:

I'm not really a pet person but I feel bad for any doggie that gets dressed up as Stitch. I bet the other dogs just pick on them all day long. If you're interested, you can find more things here.

SPAM! I used to have to go to Hiroshima to get SPAM. I actually bought all the cans of SPAM a local supermarket was carrying a couple of years ago.

I also got a kick out of this sign:

SPAM is many things but I wouldn't really call it meat (the sign says スパムミート or SPAM Meat). I tried to explain to some locals what SPAM tasted like one time but when pressed I just couldn't. I bought them cans instead. I didn't even know they sold half-size cans.

I didn't really take many pictures because I was just kind of looking around and didn't want to go Full Metal Gaijin and take all sorts of photos so maybe next time I go there I will (hopefully when it's less crowded). I mean, it is just a shopping mall. It has a mixture of chain stores (ABC Mart, Comme Ca Ism) and local stores. Still, it's something different so it will probably maintain it's charm for a bit longer. Especially, if there are cans of SPAM available.

Finally, at Minami Nakagawa - the steps to nowhere!

Monday, June 09, 2008

SASUKE MANIAC June 9, 2008 Sort of liveblog! サスケマニア

This week! I have no idea! Something about a race to Tokyo Tower. Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? Hopefully all these questions will be answered tonight!

Here we go!

Um. OK. Cherry Pie is there. Is that Momomi Yoshino? Moeyan? Who?

Megazone 23! Wait. OK, so a bunch of comediennes have to race through Tokyo's 23 wards and be the first to reach Tokyo Tower. They can spend 10000 yen (about a hundred dollars).

Ippai oppai Cherry pie! I'll let you figure that out for yourself.

The other team is. Um. Well, one of them lost the other. I have no idea who they are. Wait, what the hell are the doing? OK. They need proof of each ward. I have NO IDEA what is going on.

OK. That is Momomi Yoshino. She is part of an owarai idol combi called 相方不在 (Aikatafuzai). Her partner is Sana. OK.

Cherry Pie and Aikatafuzai both have 1 ward each. Cherry Pie decide to ask the police for some help.

On to our third team. Moeyan! They were full body -- update! All three teams have taken pictures in Chiyoda! -- anyway, they wear full body suits (one red and one blue) with the breast area colored "flesh." They've just spend 1500 yen!

Aikatafuzai also ask the police for help. Tokyo Station is in Chiyoda but it's right next to the next ward over, so they don't have to spend any money getting there. Moeyan have realized something! They're off and running! Wait. Aren't they back at the station? Didn't they leave the station? Moeyan have spent 260 yen but they are first to get 2 wards! They are back inside the station now. And they are going to buy all day passes? No idea.

Aikatafuzai is still running through the station (the station is pretty big and confusing.) They find the same map as Moeyan and get their 2nd! But they haven't spent any money yet! Now what? They are going to buy a map? Or are they just going to look at it? OK, they bought it. It cost them 630 yen.

Cherry Pie have also bought a map. It cost them 1089 yen. But they are (unknowingly) still one ward behind. They janken! For what?

All three teams are going in different directions. Cherry Pie (who generally are only wearing bikini tops wear tops in the train) go into Shinagawa. But they are in the wrong place! Is there an order? Ah. Shinagawa Station is in Minato. Not Shinagawa. Is there an order?

Aikatafuzai are on the move! They've got another one!

Moeyan entertain some people! And they've got their third! And their fourth! They are in the lead!

Aikatafuzai have an idea! Certain stations straddle several wards so they can spend money going to one station but get more than one ward each time. They're calling it "the switch back."


Indiana Jones! I just finished watching the series on DVD but I have no idea if I'm actually going to see the new movie in the theater or not. It's soo expensive to go to the movies in Japan.

Aikatafuzai are at Akihabara Station! But their original map wasn't doing them any good. So they have to buy a new one! More money spent!

Our current count is Moeyan has four, Aikatafuzai three and Cherry Pie one.



Next week! More of the Tokyo race! How long will they be able to stretch this out? Find out next week!

For the record, here are our teams:

相方不在 Aikatafuzai (Momomi Yoshino 吉野ももみ and Sana さな)

モエヤン Moeyan (池辺愛 Ikeba Ai and 久保いろは Kubo Iroha)

チェリー☆パイ Cherry Pie (かっすん Kassun and みほ Miho)

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Japan Men's National Volleyball Team qualifies for Beijing Olympics

(Photo from Nikkan Sports.)

Gallery of photos from tonight can be found here.

The Japan Men's Volleyball Team beat Argentina in five sets, 26-28, 25-13, 25-19, 17-25, 20-18, to clinch a berth in the Beijing Olympics. It's the team's first trip to the Olympics in sixteen years. Japan is currently ranked 12th in the world and Argentina tied for 9th.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

David Sedaris on the Daily Show talking about smoking in Japan

Author David Sedaris was promoting his new book, When You Are Engulfed in Flames, on the Daily Show. A part of the book is about how Sedaris quit smoking while he was staying in Hiroshima for two months. During his interview, Sedaris mentions signs that he saw. When he described them (he embellished on the wording for humorous effect) I knew exactly what he was talking about: The JT (Meet your delight!) signs about smoking manners.

Here's the interview:

Here are the signs in question (images so so so stolen from the JT site):
(I have no idea why the helicopter is there. To add scale?)
don't burn me!

(I've never even thought about this.)

You can view the complete gallery here. Here are some of my favorites:

(What is he doing???)

(Boy, people back in the Showa era sure were dapper. I think the guy is related to the guy in the crosswalk signal.)

(The influence of American culture rears it's ugly head again!)

(Cruel but so tempting.)

(Tobacco ray activate!)

Note: I am a non-smoker but if people want to smoke, then so be it.

Monday, June 02, 2008

SASUKE MANIAC June 2, 2008 Sort of liveblog! サスケマニア

This week! Momomi Yoshino has taken her wreath home (she looks really content in those pictures) and the Muscle Queen competition is over! What will SASUKE Maniac throw at us now?

Well, back on May 18th, there was the BUG IN MIKI event (note: it should always be in capital letters like that. Like saying SASUKE. Or Paul ANTHONY Terek. And how random does that sound? BUG IN MIKI! I'm going to start using that in my every day conversations. I'll use it like an interjection.

"Want to go see Iron Man?"
"Iron Man? BUG IN MIKI! That sounds good!"

"Garnett goes up for the dunk!"
"BUG IN MIKI! That was awesome!"

Note: I have not seen Iron Man yet. It's not coming to Japan until September 2008. And I don't know who to root for in the NBA Finals this year.)

Oh. Anyway, BUG IN MIKI is an event held in Miki City 三木市 in Hyogo for Volkswagon lovers in Japan. This blog's favorite BUG IN MIKIn' SASUKE All-Star Mr. SASUKE has attended it before (how red does he look in this picture? Was he hitting the 400 yen beer tent earlier in the day?) but this year the All-Stars made an appearance! And Monster 9 was there! BUG IN MIKI!

As always, Arsenette has the pictures and her own thoughts here.

Here we go. Hrm. Monster 9 spells it as BUG in MIKI. All-Stars! Everyone except Akiyama is there. And Monster 9 shows the Yamada crying clip AGAIN. Someone there truly hates him.

Quick recap of why the All-Stars are the All-Stars. Bunpei! Takeda! Nagano! Look, there's the clip of Takeda looking up a young girl's skirt again.

Hahaha, look at Yamamoto goofing around while Yamada tries to explain the course. Did he design it?

There is a kind of competition amongst the attendees for something. Some can and some can't. There is a Shin-Cliff Hanger but it isn't nearly as hard as the real one. Introductions. Yamada! Shiratori! Yamamoto! Nagano! Wait. Did they introduce Takeda? I have no idea.

First guy is from Saitama. WAIT. THAT'S THE SAME GUY FROM THE MAGURO FESTIVAL (Yahagi Makoto 矢作誠 for the curious). Geez, he's persistent. He's done the SASUKE Trial. He's gone to Muscle Park. They show his Maguro Festival run again. Pipe Slider first. Lamp Grasper. A version of the Soritatsu Kabe. Devil Steps. He's doing well so far. Oops. I just realized I forgot to start recording this. Salmon Ladder. Shin-Cliff Hanger. Can he do it? NO! He just missed. Mottainai!

Six try. Six fail! Either on the Shin-Cliff Hanger or the Salmon Ladder.

Another firefighter (Imada?) fails the Shin-Cliff Hanger.

The All-Stars are nervous!

The next guy has been to Muscle Park before and has actually been on SASUKE but wiped out on the Jumping Spider. He's doing well. They clip his run to the Soritatsu Kabe. Salmon Ladder is no problem. Shin-Cliff Hanger...NO! Oshi!

Next guy! Urushihara Yuuji 漆原裕治! He's from Tokyo. Yamamoto says something about the guy that I didn't catch. Doing well so far. Devil Steps. OK! Salmon Ladder. Yes! Shin-Cliff Hanger! YES! He does it! The crowd oohs and aahs! He's the first clear! Mr. SASUKE shakes his hand while the guy is bowing to him Mr. SASUKE walks away! Dick. He finished in 51.54.

Everyone is trying to show-up the All-Stars! Next guy is blitzing the course! Shin-Cliff Hanger...He reaches...YES! He finishes in 51.80. Mottainai!

The All-Stars are nervous! Takeda says 50 seconds! Is that a promise?

All-Stars are up next! Mr. SASUKE is first! Pipe Slider. Lamp Grasper. Soritatsu kabe. All are no problem! But he's behind the split! (by about a second). Salmon Ladder. He only has five seconds to do the Shin-Cliff Hanger! He goes! HA! I mean, NO!

Yamamoto is up next. Pipe Slider. Lamp Grasper. Soritatsu Kabe. He's ahead of the split by about four seconds. He's at forty seconds as he reaches the jump portion of the Shin-Cliff Han..NO! He doesn't do it!

Takeda is next! He says that he's not going to lose to Nagano! The shirt is off! He's beating the split by about five seconds. He reaches the Shin-Cliff Hanger at thirty seconds. 35 seconds. NO! Takeda fails! Will the All-Stars fall to a bunch of random guys! I guess Bunpei isn't trying.

Makoto Nagano! You're our only hope! Can he salvage All-Star pride?

All-Stars dai pinch! Whooo. I'm behind. He reaches the Shin-Cliff Hanger at under 30 seconds. He's going to make the jump! But of course we hit our first commercial break.

We're back! Can he do it? The jump...NO! Nagano mo! Everyone is shocked and has a hearty laugh at him! I guess the Shin-Cliff Hanger wasn't as easy as I thought. Urushihara Yuji is your SASUKE ATTACK winner today! Will we see him at the next SASUKE!

Let's learn more about Yuji! But first, Jero wants you to buy coffee.

Just to recap, it was Pipe Slider, Lamp Grasper, Soritatsu Kabe, Devil Steps, Salmon Ladder, Shin-Cliff Hanger.

What is with that intel commercial?

He sells shoes? Let's see him practice! He does lots of chin-ups all over town. He wants to appear on the big show. Wait, did the producer just offer him a spot? Whoa, there's a mixi community for SASUKE? I'm so there. He has a Shunsuke Nagasaki autograph.

They speak to his mom and the producer confirms what I thought: that Urushihara Yuji (漆原裕治) is someone we'll have to keep an eye out for the next SASUKE. Yatta! Remember that name!

And let's end the program with some clips of the last SASUKE and the call for entrants for SASUKE 21! I'm betting that from now on the program will be devoted to gathering up people for the next SASUKE.

Just in case people want to know:
 〒107-8066 TBSテレビ

Participants Wanted
Those interested in participating in the SASUKE 21 Competition.
Please write your name, age, occupation, address and where to contact you to the following address. Photos and video tape recordings are also accepted.
107-8066 TBS Television
"SASUKE Maniac" Recruitment