Month: Last updated Aug 1, 2017

Museum of Maritime Science

“Museum of Maritime Science” makes it sounds like it’ll be devoted to algae and tides, but it’s actually about ships. It’s a huge museum that takes a couple of hours to get through, and is quite interesting. There are incredibly detailed models of all kinds of ships through the ages, from Columbus’ Santa Maria to WWII battleships to modern container vessels. The museum is shaped like a giant cruise ship. Historically, Japan isn’t famous as a sea-faring nation, but it did have some beautiful ships. A WWII battleship. Some of the technical sections are actually pretty interesting, showing you...

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Sasakawa Ryoichi Statues

I’ve seen these slightly-creepy statues of a guy carrying his mother in various places in Japan, and always wondered what they were. They’re called kouyou no  zou (filial-piety statues), and it turns out they’re of a guy named Sasakawa Ryoichi, whose name will probably ring a bell if you’ve read David Kaplan’s book Yakuza. He was a fascist and was arrested as a class A war criminal after WWII. Despite having run a huge fascist organization and recruited a 150,000 man army that plundered China, trafficked in opium, and committed war crimes, he was let go because there was not enough evidence against him (although some say it was because America wanted to use the right-wingers to fight communism). He also had a lot of tie-ins with the yakuza, and was a drinking buddy of the head of the Yamaguchi-gumi, Kazuo Taoka. Sasakawa was affiliated with the Moonies too, was one of the most powerful men in the LDP (even helping choose cabinet ministers), and once called himself “the world’s wealthiest fascist.” So by now you’re probably asking yourself why there are statues of the guy all over Japan. Well, the reason is that after getting released from prison, he used his money and political influence to get motor boat racing legalized as a form of gambling. Motor boat racing (kyotei) is one of only four types of gambling...

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The Obakemono Project and Other Interesting Websites

I’m off to Osaka for a few days, but here are a few interesting sites I’ve been meaning to write about for a while: 1. To start off, here’s a great blog called Bastish.net, about an American guy and his Japanese wife living the country life in Nagano Prefecture. They own an organic farm and have a business guiding hikers and showing people around their corner of rural Japan. He’s a really good photographer, and writes interestingly about his neighbors, customers, and family. The blog is at: http://www.bastish.net/index_2.html and if you’d like to try a rural getaway focused on outdoor adventure or immersing yourself in village life with some help from English speakers, check out his One Life Japan website: http://www.onelifejapan.com/index.html. 2. Babies who lick the oil out of lamps, umbrella monsters, and ceiling lickers. They’re all at the Obakemono Project, a very well-done website about Japanese monsters. URL: http://www.obakemono.com/index.php 3. Calories in Japanese foods – This simple but fact-filled homepage is the place to go if you’re curious about whether miso, soy, or tonkotsu ramen will make you the fattest, or what kind of sushi has the least calories. Here’s the URL: http://www.eiyoukeisan.com/JapaneseFoodCalorie/index.html 4. Bukkake of the Gods: Japan’s Insane Creation Myths is brought to you by the good people at Cracked.com, describing Japan’s vomit and urine gods, gods having sex with corpses, and more. “What country has...

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Almost Beautiful: The Shin-kiba Industrial Zone

I find myself quite fascinated with the area around Tokyo Bay these days. It’s pretty incredible to look at it from Google Earth and see the amazing industrial development around it. This is Shin-Kiba. ”Kiba” means “lumber yard” and “shin” means “new.” There’s another station nearby called Kiba, which was the original lumber yard, but when land was reclaimed from the bay, it ended up in central Tokyo. A new lumber yard was built here and called “Shin-kiba.” Sometimes the factories can be almost beautiful. Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new...

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Kiyosumi Teien

A few weeks ago, I tried to go to the Fukagawa Edo Museum, an interesting-looking facility that recreates an old Tokyo neighborhood. Unfortunately, when I got there, I found out it’s closed until the end of July 2010. I was a little disappointed, and wondering what to do, but during my time in Japan, I’ve noticed that the little things you find along the way to a more well-known destination or the places you stumble across by accident can be just as, or more interesting and memorable than the place you set out to find. I decided to have a little walk around, and came across the delightful Kiyosumi Teien. I’ve been to most of the strolling gardens in Tokyo but Kiyosumi is definitely my favorite. It’s more open and scenic others I’ve been to, and just seems better kept up and with fewer ugly distractions like signs and fences than others I’ve been to. There’s a great description and video of it on Mustlovejapan.com http://www.mustlovejapan.com/subject/kiyosumi_garden/ Click here for a cool infrared photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/aeschylus18917/3625062448/ Here’s the official site: http://teien.tokyo-park.or.jp/en/kiyosumi/index.html Location 3-3-9 Kiyosumi, Koto-ku, Tokyo 135-0024 Access Toei O-edo Line and Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line, Kiyosumi-shirakawa Sta. (3 minutes on foot) Toei Bus Line: JR Kameido Sta., North Exit, #7 Bus Stop (Line #33) Take the Toyoumi-suisan-futo bus; get off at “Kiyosumiteien-mae” (3 minutes on foot). *No parking available Inquiry...

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