Japanese “Manga” Newspapers Report Current Events in Graphic Detail

This would be prefect for the USA papers as we have such dramatic headline news stories…Oil spills, Tornados, hostage situations.

Japan is newspaper-crazy. Its biggest daily, Yomiuri Shimbun, has 10 times the circulation of The New York Times. They have their own baseball team the Giants!

For now just as in the USA, young people in Japan aren’t reading newspapers as often as their parents. But the Japanese seem to have a solution: Manga No Shimbun, (Manga Newspaper), an online outfit that covers the week’s events in comic book form.

Here is a translated version…
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These aren’t the funnies or political cartoons—they’re actual news articles about everything from foreign policy to pop culture to murder trials. The site employs more than 100 manga artists to cover breaking stories, updating 10 or 15 times a day. Graphic style varies—some pieces are in color, others black-and-white; some are realistic, some exaggeratedly kawaii (cute).

Manga News is also available via an iPhone app and will come to Android and other mobile platforms later this year. There’s even talk of international versions.

Good idea, especially if Astro Boy gets elected to parliament or Speed Racer runs for President! But given the reduced literacy in our schools here in the USA we may have to create text books like this

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Stress Relief? Try Tickle Therapy.

I appears laughter is strong medicine. Really.

Did you know that when you laugh, you not only exercise almost all of the 53 facial muscles; you also spark a series of chemical reactions within the body? No one knows exactly what process takes place, but studies show definite benefits:

Levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol, are reduced. This leads to a strengthened immune system and lower blood pressure.

You mean I’m taking Norvasc every day to control my blood pressure and all I needed was a tickle?

Many of my friends are advocates of natural health. While I am not ready to give up the Norvasc just yet a twice-a-day tickle therapy seems to help…although it is driving the neighbors crazy listening to my screeching laughter I am definitely less stressed out!

Stress is also associated with damage to the protective barrier lining our blood vessels. This can cause fat and cholesterol to build-up in the arteries and could ultimately lead to a heart attack.

So laughing is even thought to help protect the heart.

Endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, are released when we laugh, producing a general sense of well being. The conscious thought process is bypassed – it’s like taking a weight off the mind! Hmmm…Sounds a little like hemp!

The reduction of stress-related hormones has also been linked to enhanced creativity and beneficial effects on conditions as diverse as insomnia, asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.

I use to live and work in the heart of Tokyo. Everyone in the city was so stressed out and serious…maybe they could have employed a bit of “tickle” therapy!
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Look at this shot…no wonder Tokyo made me stressed. The conductors actually push the passengers into the packed train! At least they are wear clean white gloves.

What did Bill Murray say at the end of “Lost in Translation”?

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I just watched “Lost in Translation” again last night probably for the 25th time.

It’s rare that you find a movie that sticks with you long after you’ve seen it for the first time. “Lost in Translation” was like that for me, for some reason. Maybe it stems from a time in my life where I was living and working in Tokyo and spent many days and nights at the very Park Hyatt this was filmed. Usually meeting with Western colleagues to de-cipher and untangle the day’s events and interchanges with my Japanese colleagues.

It had great appeal to me, despite the nature of being very much on my own there. I could relate to Murray’s character and the Japanese scenarios were almost too realistic making me cringe at points.

Perhaps that’s why “Lost in Translation” had the impact it did. Bill Murray, who plays Bob Harris, is in a strange country and cannot sleep, and he meets Charlotte, played wonderfully by Scarlett Johansson, who is also in the same situation, but almost totally alone as her new husband has other things to do.

They connect with each other out of their need to be with something familiar. Being in Japan with no English spoken, these two naturally relate and spend a lot of time together over the next few days, trying to hold onto this amazing thing they’ve found amidst their loneliness.

The movie did a superb job of bringing the audience into the emotions going on inside these two. You actually can almost feel what they are going through and how they long to just “be “ with each other.

And that brings us to the end of the movie. Bob has to leave, the filming is done on his TV commercial, and it’s time to go home and that means leaving Charlotte behind. But that’s the end really, they had no future, they were both married and their time was up. You felt their pain in ending the short relationship, but what other choice was there?

So Bob gets into his limo and is taken away, while Charlotte heads out onto the streets, back to wandering aimlessly like she did before, alone and out of place in this strange country.

But Bob stops, goes back and finds her walking in Shinjuku near the Hyatt…I know that exact street

They look at each other for a moment, and then they just hold each other. He whispers something to her, which makes her cry, makes her smile. They kiss, and she continues walking down the sidewalk, tears flowing, but a new look of happiness on her face. Bob gets into the limo and is gone.

I loved the movie, and I loved the final song in it so much that I now own the “Jesus and Mary Chain” album Psychocandy that it came from.

So the big mystery for all that saw it was this: What did he say to her?

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Some wise words of comfort from an older man that allowed her to move on? That he’d see her again? That he loved her?

Well, we now know. Someone took the scene and digitally enhanced the sentence that Bill Murray whispers to Charlotte and posted the video on YouTube. Sorry the link is no longer on YouTube.

It was hard to hear, but I think they got it right.

Now, not everyone wants to know. The way it ended was perfect in my opinion, leaving it up to us to decide what he said to her. It was fitting and obviously kept people thinking about it afterwards.

So if you don’t want to know, don’t watch the video or read on after this point. But if you do, check it out below.

Here is the final line from him again, if you didn’t watch it or want to see it again:

Bob: “I have to be leaving…but I wont let that come between us, okay?”

Charlotte: “Okay.” *gasp*

This exchange seems totally fitting to me. But the real meaning behind it will always remain a mystery. Did that mean he was coming back to her? Or was he just leaving her with hope. That in having this hope, she wouldn’t be completely miserable and lonely. Her gasp at the end was like a breath of relief escaping her, so the words he said were the right ones.

I don’t know what it means. I don’t think we ever will. They are both married, so the real guy inside me wants to think that they just return to their lives, but another part of me hopes they end up together.

What do you think? Does it make a difference knowing what he said? Am I the only one who really enjoyed this film?

Heineken TV Commercial

Tokyo was an incredible city back in the bubble years…some of the clubs and shows were incredible…this spot is like a night in Tokyo in the late 80″s early 90’s…Club Gold, Club Orange and One Eyed Jack when they had a casino. There was even a club with mermaids swimming behind the bar.

This spot looks like it was shot in the Russian restaurant in the basement called Volga. Lost in Translation was great at showing a side of the city that people think was over the top but having lived there I can tell you it was the real deal.

Tokyo is still a wild place but during the bubble it was surreal, 24/7.

Shot of Volga near Tokyo Tower
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Japan Travel Warning

I get updates from the US Embassy and because I have so many friends and colleagues who live and work in Tokyo I thought I should pass this on….
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This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning dated March 21, 2011. In response to the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the Department of Energy, and other technical experts in the U.S. Government have reviewed the scientific and technical information they have collected from assets in country, as well as what the Government of Japan has disseminated. Consistent with the NRC guidelines that would apply to such a situation in the United States, we continue recommending, as a precaution, that U.S. citizens within 50 miles (80 kilometers) of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant evacuate the area or take shelter indoors, if safe evacuation is not practical.

On March 16, the State Department authorized the voluntary departure from Japan of eligible family members of U.S. government personnel assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, the U.S. Consulate in Nagoya, the Foreign Service Institute Field School in Yokohama and the prefectures of Akita, Aomori, Chiba, Fukushima, Gunma, Ibaraki, Iwate, Miyagi, Nagano, Niigata, Saitama, Shizouka, Tochigi, Yamagata, and Yamanashi. U.S. citizens should defer all travel to the evacuation zone around Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant and to areas affected by the earthquake and tsunami.

For the latest U.S. Government information on the situation in Japan, please visit the Embassy website, http://japan.usembassy.gov.

U.S. citizens should defer non-essential travel to the following regions: Tokyo (Tokyo Capital Region), Yokohama (Kanagawa Prefecture), and the prefectures of Akita, Aomori, Chiba, Fukushima, Gunma, Ibaraki, Iwate, Miyagi, Nagano, Niigata, Saitama, Shizuoka, Tochigi, Yamagata, and Yamanashi.

Areas of Japan outside these above regions of concern include: the islands of Hokkaido, Shikoku, Kyushu, and Okinawa, and the prefectures Aichi, Fukui, Gifu, Hiroshima, Hyogo, Ishikawa, Kyoto, Mie, Nara, Okayama, Osaka, Shiga, Shimane, Tottori, Toyama, Wakayama, and Yamaguchi on the island of Honshu. Travelers to these prefectures should bear in mind that transit through Narita (Chiba) and Haneda (Tokyo) airports may be required.

The Situation at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant
The situation regarding the Fukushima nuclear plant remains serious. We strongly encourage you to understand the facts about how to protect your family. Please see our website: http://japan.usembassy.gov.

The U.S. Government is making available Potassium Iodide (KI) solely as a precautionary measure for United States Government personnel and dependents residing within Nagoya (Aichi Prefecture), Tokyo (Tokyo Capital Region), Yokohama (Kanagawa Prefecture), and the prefectures of Akita, Aomori, Chiba, Fukushima, Gunma, Ibaraki, Iwate, Miyagi, Nagano, Niigata, Saitama, Shizouka, Tochigi, Yamagata, and Yamanashi. The KI should only be consumed after specific instruction from the United States Government. While there is no indication that it will become advisable to take KI, out of an abundance of caution the United States Government is making it available to its personnel and family members to be used only upon direction if a change in circumstances were to warrant. In the event of a radiological release, sheltering in place or departing the affected area remain the primary means of protection.

As a precautionary measure, the U.S. Embassy is continuing to make potassium iodide (KI) tablets available to private U.S. citizens who have not been able to obtain it from their physicians, employers, or other sources. Anyone considering availing themselves of this opportunity should consult the Embassy website (http://japan.usembassy.gov) for up-to-date information regarding distribution. We do not recommend that anyone take KI at this time. There are risks associated with taking KI. It should only be taken on the advice of emergency management officials, public health officials or your doctor. For more information about KI, see this fact sheet from the Centers for Disease Control (http://emergency.cdc.gov/radiation/ki.asp), or contact your doctor.

In the Event of Further Earthquakes, Strong Aftershocks, or Tsunamis
Strong aftershocks are likely for weeks following a massive earthquake such as the March 11 earthquake. The American Red Cross recommends that in the event of aftershocks, persons be alert to the danger of falling debris and move to open spaces away from walls, windows, buildings, and other structures that may collapse. If you are indoors, drop, cover, and hold on; if possible, seek cover under a sturdy desk or table, hold on, and protect your eyes by pressing your face against your arm. If there is no table or desk nearby, sit on the floor against an interior wall away from windows, bookcases or tall furniture that could fall on you. Avoid damaged buildings and downed power lines. Great care should be used with matches, lighters, candles, or any open flame due to the possibility of disrupted gas lines. Due to the continuing possibility of strong aftershocks, Japan remains at risk for further tsunamis. Japanese authorities have issued a warning for people to stay away from low-lying coastal areas. If a tsunami alert is issued by Japanese authorities, evacuate immediately to higher ground. See information on our website, http://japan.usembassy.gov.

Conditions
Commercial flights have resumed at all airports that were closed by the earthquake, except Sendai Airport, and commercial seats are available at the time of this posting. In Tokyo, public transportation including trains and subways are operating. Across Japan, about 90 percent of roads damaged by the tsunami and earthquake have been repaired or made passable, and most restrictions that limited traffic on roads to emergency vehicles have been lifted. Hardships caused by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami continue to cause severe difficulties for people in areas, including Miyagi, Iwate, Fukushima, and Ibaraki prefectures. Temporary shortages of water and food supplies may occur in areas of Honshu north of Tokyo due to power and transportation disruptions. Restaurants, supermarkets, and other stores in Tokyo have resumed operations.

Planned rolling power outages are decreasing in the Tokyo metropolitan area, but continue in areas in northeast Japan affected by the earthquake and tsunami.

Please monitor the Tokyo Electric Power Company website (http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/index-e.html), and local news media for specific information and schedules for the planned outages. Radio stations in the Tokyo area that have emergency information in English include the U.S. Armed Forces station at 810AM and InterFM (76.1FM).