"There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit." - President Ronald Reagan.

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Latest Blog Post Pick-ups

The good folks at The Japan Daily have picked up three blog posts for sharing with their readers.

They are:

To read The Japan Daily, go here.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

6.8 Earthquake Hits Nagano

Source: Google Maps.

A magnitude 6.8 earthquake hit near Nagano City, causing at least 20 injuries due to collapsing homes.

According to the Mainichi Shimbun:
TOKYO (Kyodo) -- A strong earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.8 hit Nagano Prefecture and surrounding areas in central Japan on Saturday night, the weather agency said. 
No tsunami warning was issued. 
The 10:08 p.m. quake measured lower 6 on the Japanese seismic scale of 7 in northern Nagano, and lower 5 in Niigata Prefecture, the Japan Meteorological Agency said. 
An aftershock registered lower 5 in northern Nagano at 10:37 p.m., according to the agency.

To read more, go here

The Top Ten Spots In Tokyo To Make An Anime Pilgrimage

Above, the Godzilla statue in Hibiya, Chiyoda Ward in Tokyo. Chiyoda
 is the top pilgrimage area for anime fans. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

People traveling to Japan to see locations and landmarks featured in their favorite movies or television shows has been going on for years.

Monster fans have been drawn to Japan to visit places used in Godzilla or Gamera movies. Some of the most popular landmarks include Ginza's Wako department store and the Kachidoki Bridge (both featured in Godzilla in 1954), the Saikai Bridge near Sasebo City in Kyushu (featured in Rodan in 1956) and Tokyo Tower (featured in several monster movies starting with Mothra in 1961). The list goes on.

That is why I came up with The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan to assist fans in making their own pilgrimages to these places.

Wanting to see landmarks and locations used in movies or television shows isn't just a phenomenon of monster fans. This is also something that draws fans of anime to Japan as well. The Japan National Tourism Organization has even put out a Japan Anime Tourism Guide for those fans. (The Japan Anime Tourism Guide is available through the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) at http://visitjapan.jp.)

It may seem a little far-fetched that anime fans would want to visit locations and landmarks featured in their favorite anime, since they are all just basically cartoons. At least, for the most part, the actual locations used in Godzilla or Gamera movies were shown, but intercut with highly detailed miniatures.

Rocket News 24 has an article on "The Top Ten Spots In Tokyo To Make An Anime Pilgrimage." These are wards in Tokyo (Chiyoda and Shinjuku are examples of two of them) that has landmarks and locations that were depicted in anime.

According to the article in Rocket News 24:
A bulk of the anime we know and love are set in real-life locations in Japan. Often, the stories are based on a specific location mentioned in the anime, such as Ikebukuro where popular anime Durarara! and its sequel are set. In other cases, the setting is not mentioned but fans are quick to identify the location using scenes found in each episode. One such example would be the hit franchise The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi, which featured scenery from Nishinomiya in Hyogo Prefecture. Avid anime fans have had a long tradition of making pilgrimages to key spots in their favorite series through an activity known as Seichi Junrei. There’s now even a website dedicated to documenting these spots and they have recently released a ranking of the wards in Tokyo that contain the most number of pilgrimage spots.
Above, when one compares the anime (left) and the actual place
in Tokyo, pilgrimages may not seem so far-fetched after all.

The article also has a chart of the rankings of pilgrimage spots of interest to anime fans, in case they have limited time to spare while in Japan. They can just concentrate on the areas with the most pilgrimage spots.

To read the article, go here.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Difference Between Life Magazine's Warren Report Editions of October 1964

Above, the former Texas School Book Depository and the Dal-Tex Building
behind it at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

During the process of putting away my belongings and tossing out stuff I have no need or use for after the pipe rupture, I came across my collection of newspapers and magazines that covered the JFK assassination. I was looking through them yesterday and found something interesting.

My dad saved the newspapers from that weekend in November 1963 along with magazines from that period. He also saved the Life magazine of October 2, 1964 that had the cover story on the newly-released Warren Commission Report on the assassination along with the Spanish edition of the same magazine. The magazines are similar except that the text of the Spanish edition was, naturally, in Spanish.

But there was one (big) difference between the two editions, which I will point out.

First though, a little bit of history. On the night of November 22, 1963 at about 11:00, dress-maker Abraham Zapruder took a call from Life magazine's Los Angeles Bureau Chief Richard Stolley about the 8mm home movie he shot of the assassination. Stolley asked if he could come out to see the film, but Zapruder was tired and emotionally worn out at the time and said no. He asked Stolley to meet him at his office the next morning at 9:00. Stolley showed up at 8:00.

The next morning, at Zapruder's office in the Dal-Tex Building that was located across the street from the Texas Book Depository Building at Dealey Plaza, Stolley viewed the film with the Secret Service while reporters were outside screaming and pounding on Zapruder's door.

Following the viewing, Stolley negotiated the print rights to Zapruder's film (he later obtained full rights to the film) for $50,000. Zapruder made one request, out of fear of exploitation of the film. That request was that Life would not publish movie frame 313, which was the moment of the fatal head shot. Stolley agreed to this. After signing a contract with Zapruder, Stolley left with the film through another exit (away from the other reporters).

True to his word, the edition of Life was published with frames from the Zapruder film without frame 313 among them (I have this issue, too). But they were in black & white. They were unable to print in color at that point for some reason. Color frames were published in the following issue.

Getting back to the October 2, 1964 Life magazine issue featuring the Warren Commission Report.

Frames from Zapruder's film accompanied the article. Again, frame 313 was not among them.

However, as I mentioned at the top of this article, I also have the Spanish edition of this issue (I have no idea how my dad or I acquired it). And, as I also mentioned, there was a big difference between the two editions (besides the Spanish text).

The Spanish edition included frame 313 that clearly shows Kennedy's head explode upon impact by Oswald's bullet. This raises a question. Did Richard Stolley and/or Life magazine renege on their agreement with Zapruder to not publish the fatal head shot frame by including it in the Spanish edition?

It is unclear if Zapruder's request to not publish frame 313 is part of the rights agreement. If so, then it appears that Life may have violated the agreement. They have since published frame 313 a number of times since the 1960s.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Dollar Near ¥119 In Tokyo; Now Is The Time To Visit Japan

Above, Nakamise Dori in Asakusa, a shopper's paradise. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The time is right for an autumn visit to Japan as the dollar is continuing to rise against the Japanese yen.

From Jiji Press:
Tokyo, Nov. 20 (Jiji Press)--The dollar accelerated its bull run to approach 119 yen at one point in Tokyo trading Thursday after repeatedly renewing its seven-year high recently, as the Japanese government has effectively tolerated the yen's rapid weakening.

Above, some goodies I bought on a past trip to Japan. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

A vacation in Japan is much more affordable than it has been in years. American visitors will be getting more yen for each dollar exchanged. That means that a kaiju fan can buy more Godzilla and other kaiju toys than they have been able to in years.

To read more, go here

JR West Introducing New Travel Passes To Visit The "Land of Rodan"

Above, the Saikai Bridge near Sasebo. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Fans wanting to visit the "Land of Rodan" can do so more cheaply thanks to three new travel passes for foreigners from JR West.

According to Kyodo News:
West Japan Railway Co. said Wednesday it will expand its lineup of unlimited ride passes for foreign travelers from next March. 
By newly offering three area passes that can be used in western Japan, the company, better known as JR West, aims to explore new demand from foreign travelers in connection with next year's 40th anniversary of the Sanyo Shinkansen bullet train line between Osaka and Hakata in Fukuoka Prefecture.
Hakata Station is in Kyushu's largest city, Fukuoka. From there, visitors can travel to Mount Aso Volcano National Park and Sasebo City (and the nearby Saikai Bridge), where much of the action in Rodan (1956) took place.

To read more, go here

Japan Becomes The Land of Rising Tourism

Above, Sensoji Temple in Asakusa, one of the world's most visited
tourist attractions according to
Travel + Leisure. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The most recent blog post noted that Japan has already beat its 2013 record of 10 million foreign tourists in the first ten months of 2014.

One of the reasons cited for the growth in tourism was the devaluing of the Japanese yen.

Travel Daily Asia has an article on the booming Japanese tourist industy.

It begins with:
Japan’s tourism industry is experiencing a major upswing, as the fall of the yen makes the country an increasingly affordable destination. 
International tourist arrivals to Japan have doubled in the last decade, to more than 10 million in 2013 – the majority of them from other parts of Asia.
The article does mention that a factor that could hinder further growth in tourism, need for more slots at Tokyo's two airports, Haneda and Narita, especially Haneda.

There's one other possible hindrance to future growth: if the yen appreciates in value against foreign currencies. That would put a big damper on tourism growth pretty darn fast!

To read more, go here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Visitors To Japan Surpass 10 Million In First Ten Months

Above, the meeting point at Terminal One at Narita International Airport. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

According to an article in The Japan News (Yomiuri Shimbun), Japan has already exceeded ten million foreign visitors this year.

They wrote:
The number of visitors to Japan in January-October grew 27.1 percent from a year before to 11,009,000, already topping the full-year record of 10,363,904 marked in 2013, an estimate by the Japan National Tourism Organization showed Wednesday. 
As a result, the number of visitors in 2014 is on track to hit a record high for the second straight year.
The article cites the weakened yen and the easing of visa requirements for some Southeast Asian countries for the surge in foreign visitors.

It is anticipated that the total number of foreign visitors to Japan will total around 13 million in 2014.

To read the full article, go here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Original Superboy At Superman Celebration Luncheon

Above, Johnny Rockwell as Superboy in 1961.

One of the guests at the Superman Celebration Luncheon last August was Johnny Rockwell (or John Rockwell).

Who is Johnny Rockwell, you may ask?

Above, Jim Walsh with John Rockwell at the Superman Celebration Luncheon. Photo courtesy of Jim Walsh.

Rockwell was the first live-action Superboy. He was chosen for his resemblance to the late George Reeves. After Reeves's death in June 1959, National Comics (now DC Comics) and producer Whitney Ellsworth got the idea to chronicle the early career of Superman when he was a boy in the Adventures of Superboy.

In 1961, a pilot episode was filmed featuring Rockwell as Superboy/Clark Kent and Bunny Henning as Lana Lang.

Unfortunately, the series was not picked up. Superboy did not get his own televised show until 1988. This was the only episode of the 1961 Adventures of Superboy filmed.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Airlines: Those Fees and Fuel Surcharges Aren't Going Away

Above, a fuel-efficient United Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Recently, oil (and gasoline) prices have been dropping like rocks. I was wondering if airfares (along with the fuel surcharges) will be dropped or lowered likewise.

Apparently not, according to an article from AOL.com:
NEW YORK (AP) - Planes are full. Passengers clamor for amenities. Investors want a payout. New planes are on order. 
Those are all reasons the airlines likely won't be passing their recent savings on fuel along to fliers in the form of lower fares. 
In fact, fares are going higher. And those bag fees that airlines instituted in 2008 when fuel prices spiked aren't going away either.
It appears that shareholders will be getting dividends with the savings that the lower fuel costs have provided. So if you were counting on the airlines to help you to cheaply get to Japan or elsewhere, guess again.

The flying public is screwed again.

To read more, go here

Goodyear Blimps At Airships.net

Above, the Goodyear blimp Columbia over Point Mugu in 1967. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

For those of you who are fans of airships (blimps and zeppelins), a website (http://www.airships.net/) that should satisfy your passion.

Above, Columbia at Point Mugu in 1967. This blimp was in service from 1963 to 1969. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The page that intrigues me is one on the history of the Goodyear blimps. This pages has the history of all Goodyear blimps including photographs. Goodyear recently put into service their first semi-rigid zeppelin, Wingfoot One.

Above, the current L.A. Goodyear blimp, Spirit of America, at its base in Carson. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The Goodyear blimp page at Airships.net can be reached by going here: http://www.airships.net/goodyear-blimp

Cult Movies No. 7 Unearthed

Above, my copy of Cult Movies no. 7. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

When having a pipe break (in two places on the hotwater line) that caused water damage to my humble residence, sometimes there are good things to come out of it.

One of which is finding an old magazine that was put away (and subsequently forgotten where) during the packing and unpacking of storage boxes during the course of getting my apartment back into shape. This was the case in finding one of the first issues of Cult Movies magazine to extensively feature Godzilla.

While going through boxes of stuff yesterday, I located a copy of Cult Movies number 7 from 1993, which contained a striking Godzilla cover and several articles on the Big G. I knew I had this issue, but hadn't seen it in years and didn't recall where I may have put it.

The articles include:
  • Special Section: Godzilla vs. Mothra Report by David Milner, Nawan O. Bailey and Koji Ichinomiya
  • Preview of Godzilla vs, Mothra
  • Godzilla vs. Mothra Synopsys
  • Toho's Monsters Speak Out by Jay Majer
  • Other Godzilla-related features

Plus, the issue also contained two articles by Chuck Harter:

  • "Bela Meets Berle" (a rare television appearance by Bela Lugosi all decked out in his Dracula costume)
  • "When The Man of Steel Came To Town" (on the personal appearances of George Reeves)

It is funny to think that it seems like only yesterday I bought this issue, but in actuality, it has been 21 years since it was published and I bought it at a Hollywood newsstand.

I found other old issues of Cult Movies. One of them had an article on Godzilla by Richard A. Pusateri.

End of Life Funeral Preparation On The Rise In Japan

Above, a traditional-style Japanese cemetery in Niigata. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

With a rapidly aging population, Japan's funeral industry is "extremely active" these days. Japan's elderly are planning their own funeral preparations.

According to an article in RT.com, Japan's population is expected to shrink by over 30 million over the next 50 years, but funeral industry-related businesses quadrupled between 2000 and 2013.

The article states:
Trying out a coffin, posing for a tombstone photo, and simulating the scattering of one's own ashes into the ocean: Japan’s elderly are taking funeral preparations into their own hands, with ‘end of life’ preparations gaining popularity in the country.
The article includes some innovative tombs now available for "occupancy" in Tokyo. Included are mult-storey, vault-style interactive graveyards. These just may become the next big thing in Japanese tourist attractions.

I bet you're just "dying" to read the article, so go here. There's also plenty of photos.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

It's Official: Japan Is In A Recession

Above, Akihabara's "electric town" section of Tokyo. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

One could have almost predicted this. Japan is now in a recession thanks to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's consumption tax hike.

According to Japan Today:
TOKYO —Japan’s economy dropped into a recession after a second-straight quarter of contraction, official data showed Monday, in a huge blow to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s bid to turn around years of laggard growth. 
The country’s gross domestic product shrank 0.4% in the July-September quarter, or an annualised rate of 1.6%, underscoring how an April tax rise dented growth in the world’s number three economy and weighing on the chances of a second levy hike next year.
Raising taxes will make people modify their spending (in other words, tighten their belts). This is especially true with high-ticket items such as electronics, major appliances, furniure and automobiles. People will either forego or delay purchases of these items due to the tax bite.

To read more, go here.

Adventures of Superman Plaque: Three Months Later

Three months ago today, the Adventures of Superman plaque was dedicated in a ceremony in Tarzana, California that was attended by Jack (Jimmy Olsen) Larson, Beverly Washburn, Laura Siegel Larson, Stephanie Shayne Parkin, Jacqueline Hamilton and many fans.

Yesterday, I drove over to the plaque to check on it and found that the grass around it has grown back in quite nicely.

Here's the plaque right after it was installed at 5400 Wilbur Ave., Tarzana in August:

Here's the plaque on November 15:

Unfortunately, I didn't have any cleaning supplies with me to shine it up when I stopped by.

To see the plaque's listing at Roadside America, go here.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Tokyo's Haneda Airport "Redeye" Flights

Above, Tokyo Tower and the moon. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

As Haneda Airport in Tokyo is increasing the number of international flights, it is also beginning to offer overnight (or "redeye") flight service through several carriers.

According to News On Japan:
Airlines are increasingly offering overnight flights from Haneda Airport here as travelers seek to pack their weekend trips with more daylight hours for less money.
Airlines offering (or about to offer) overnight flights include All Nippon Airways (ANA), United Airlines, Japan Airlines and Turkish Airlines. U.S. cities to be serviced include Los Angeles, Honolulu and San Francisco.

To read more, go here.

"El Lago"

Above, Siren and Lola wondering, "What the hell happened to our house?" Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Yesterday, at Jes's suggestion, I took a bunch of photos of the water damage inside of my apartment. One of the photos had our pets, Siren (the cat) and Lola (the dog) included. I cropped it to just focus on them. Their looks seem to be one of wondering what happened to our house. I sent the picture to a friend. After looking it over, she replied, "Yes, that about sums it up very well. They don't like changes that rock their world."

Well, shortly after 8:00 this morning, the plumbers showed up and began work on digging out the cement floor to repair the hot water line that gave out yesterday morning. So, I am kicking back at Starbucks.

In a new development, the water spread into the kitchen, bedroom closet and bedroom floor of my neighbor's apartment. This could have also been avoided had the property management company jumped on this and immediately got a crew out while the damage was still minimal. Instead, the plumber showed up nearly 22 hours after I reported it, allowing my apartment to become "el lago."

Above, the plumber digging up the floor to get to the burst pipe. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Jes is heading to her father's today, so she won't have to put up with the hassle of dealing with this mess. I had a long talk with the building manager and told her what I expected to be done (politely, but firmly). She will be talking with her supervisor with the property management company.

This will be interesting.

Feels Like Living Aboard The R.M.S. Titanic

Early yesterday morning, I came home from work. Jes was still in bed, which is not unusual as she's a late sleeper.

But, when I took my work clothes off to go to bed, I noticed something warm and wet on the carpet. My initial thought was that the dog took a piss on the carpet and I stepped in it. Since she is a chihuahua, it couldn't have been piss. It was too large an area.

Checking around, I noticed more wet spots here and there, but minor. We thought that the numbskull (literally) who lives above us let her sink or bathtub overflow and it leaked into my apartment (it had happened before). I was exhausted from work and fell asleep.

A few hours later (around 10:00 a.m.), I got up and noticed that the carpet was even wetter, and with warm spots. I knew then that a hot water pipe broke inside the concrete floor. It happened in my mother's apartment about a week or so after she died. So, I immediately notified the manager. I tried again to get some sleep after moving some belongings away from the wet areas. A maintenance worker from the building's management company, Beverly Hills Properties, came around 11:00 and inspected the apartment and took photographs. He confirmed that it was a hot water pipe inside of the floor.

At 12:55, the manager left a voice mail message saying that the repairer will be arriving at 8:00 the next morning and the water would be shut off that night at 9:00.

Around 2:00, the carpet was even more saturated and the bathroom floor was wet and the floor of the kitchen was beginning to get wet on one end. The wet areas were getting bigger and spreading.
It felt like I was aboard the R.M.S. Titanic where one could see the water creeping up towards the passengers.

After a couple of hours, we heard nothing more from the manager. We called her and she said the supervisor of the management company said that it will take six hours to get someone out. She acted very lackadaisical about the whole thing. We told her that this was an emergency situation and it cannot wait. The apartment was getting flooded and is unlivable. Finally, a half hour later, we got the okay to stay at a hotel and that a crew will be over early in the morning. The building's hot water was to be shut off that night at 9:30, according to a note the managers left on all of the building's tenants. They were only allowing one night in a hotel.

Well, I have news for them. This will take more than one night to make the place habitable again and, by law, they have to put us up in a hotel until the apartment is actually habitable. I was a property insurance claims adjuster, so I know what has to be done and what the law requires. I've handled many claims involving water damage and besides a hotel room, additional living expenses are also claimable (this includes the cost of food over and above what is normal per day). If the management company balks, they will have one heck of a lawsuit awaiting them!

Negligence and liability comes into play as the management did not:

  • immediately shut off the building's water, but put out a notice that the water would be shut off ten hours later (9:30 PM)
  • immediately call in an emergency repairer in the early stages of the leak (during the time the Beverly Hills Properties worker confirmed the leak at about 11:00 a.m. (had they got someone there immediately, the damage would have been mitigated)
  • immediately contact a company like SERVEPRO to clean, treat and restore damaged property

So, in the morning, I get to look forward to getting the carpet and padding removed and the concrete floor will be drilled and dug up to repair the pipe. Following all this comes the hassle of getting a new carpet, padding and painting. I also will have to itemize any damaged property a the claim against the building's insurer. Well, at least I'll be finally getting a new carpet after living there for 16 years!

Welcome to Titanic Apartments.

Friday, November 14, 2014

“Hope: Entertainer of the Century”

Eleven years after he died at age 100, comedian Bob Hope finally has a book about him.

It is titled, “Hope: Entertainer of the Century” (Simon & Schuster) by Richard Zoglin.

Japan Today (of all places) posted an article on the biography of Hope. The article states:
NEW YORK —While today he may be thought of with misgivings, if at all, Bob Hope reigned for much of the last century as America’s wisecracking avatar of comedy. 
By the time he died in 2003 at age 100, Hope had conquered vaudeville, Broadway, recordings, live concerts, radio, films and, from its infancy, TV, where he remained a welcome presence into his 90s. 
“By nearly any measure, he was the most popular entertainer of the 20th century,” writes Richard Zoglin. 
That alone should bear out Hope’s career-long theme song, “Thanks for the Memories.” Yet memories of Hope have already dimmed, and his achievements, still felt by performers and audiences alike, now are largely taken for granted.
In Zoglin's opinion, Hope invented the art form of stand-up comedy. Yet, when he asked a number of today's stand-up comics, Hope is never mentioned as an influence.

Above, one of many photos of Bob Hope displayed at the Lakeside Golf Club.

There is one place where Hope's influence is still felt: the Lakeside Golf Club in Toluca Lake (not far from Hope's home). There are many reminders of his longtime enjoyment of golf. He was a member of the golf club for years and there are many photographs of Hope throughout the clubhouse. I saw Hope in-person once. It was at the opening of the Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace in Yorba Linda, California.

To read the article, go here.

For details on the book: http://www.bobhopethebook.com

Dollar At New 7-Year High Against Yen, Etc.

Above, one of the moats that surrounds the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The dollar has reached a new seven-year high in Tokyo. It is now at ¥116.31-116.32 (Source: Kyodo News). Now is a good time to head over!

Speaking of Japan travel, two articles from different perspectives have appeared in newspapers from the Eastern Seaboard on recent visits to Japan.

One is from The Washington Post and the other is from the New York Times. Each are worth reading to give anyone interested in taking a trip to Japan ideas on what to see and do.

To read The Washington Post's article, go here.

To read the New York Times's article, go here.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Docomo Introduces Jspeak Translation App For Foreign Visitors

Above, the NTT Docomo Yoyogi Building from Harajuku, Tokyo. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Japan's NTT Docomo has come up with an ingenious device application for Android 4.0 to 4.4 smartphones or tablets.

It is called Jspeak.

According to Japan Today:
TOKYO —NTT Docomo, a personalized mobile solutions provider for smarter living, has launched its Jspeak face-to-face mobile translation service for smartphones and tablets, targeting travelers from abroad. 
Jspeak is modelled on Docomo’s Hanashite Honyaku, the mobile-based automatic translation service now offered exclusively to Docomo subscribers in Japan. Jspeak will enable Japanese and non-Japanese speakers to enjoy face-to-face conversations simply by speaking into a smartphone or tablet to get a translation as screen text and voice readout. Ten languages - Chinese, English, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish and Thai - can be translated into Japanese and vice versa.
Two plans will be offered. One for $.99 for one week and one for $2.99 for one month's service.

To read more, go here.

Dollar Above ¥115.50

Things are looking exceedingly good as far as the foreign exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the Japanese yen is concerned. 

According to the Japan Times:
The dollar rose above ¥115.50 in Tokyo trading Thursday, aided by a stock market surge reflecting speculation that the planned consumption tax increase will be postponed. 
At 5 p.m., the dollar stood at ¥115.77-78, up from ¥115.27-28 at the same time Wednesday. 
This is great news for potential American tourists to Japan as their dollars will buy more yen.

To read more, go here

Fox News Obtains Draft of Obama's Immigration Executive Order Amnesty Plan

Fox News has obtained draft copies of King Barack Obama's plan to issue executive orders granting amnesty to 4.5 million illegal immigrants.

According to Fox News:
Fox News has obtained new documents from a government agency which contain detailed proposals for presidential action that could lead to legalization for undocumented immigrants. 
Mike Emanuel reported this evening that sources say President Barack Obama was briefed on the plan before his Asia trip. Executive action could be announced as early as next week. 
As part of the 10-point plan, up to 4.5 million illegal immigrants living with their American born kids would be allowed to stay in the U.S., an expansion of deferred action. The plan would also expand deferred action for DACA children. There is also a proposal to raise pay for ICE officers to boost morale.
Obama refuses to allow the new Congress time to come up with any immigration reform measures, but instead will issue executive orders granting amnesty. Obama claims that he's "waited long enough" for action on immigration reform. But one has to ask why he did NOTHING when his party controlled both houses of Congress with super-majorities?

As Charles Krauthammer said on the Fox News panel on Obama's plan, it is "constitutionally odious."

I would hope that legal organizations such as Judicial Watch or Mark Levin's Landmark Legal Foundation (or even Congress) would immediately file for court injunctions to block Obama's plans, now that we have a good idea on what they are. If that fails, then I would also hope that if Obama goes ahead with his plan, and it is found to be unconstitutional during congressional hearings, then he should be impeached and removed from office.

To read the Fox News article and see the panel discussion, go here.

Latest Blog Pick-ups

The good folks at The Japan Daily picked up several of yesterday's blog posts for sharing with their readers.

They include:

To read The Japan Daily, go here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Aso-Kuju National Park

Above, this is all I could see when I visited Mt. Aso in 2007. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

In April 2007, I paid a visit to Aso-Kuju National Park in Kyushu to see where the Mt. Aso volcano(es) where the two Rodans met their demise in Rodan (1956). Unfortunately, the park was in the midst of a blizzard during my visit, so I didn't get to see much of anything except for a few yards of snow.

However, if one wants to see what the park looks like in clear weather, Rocket News 24 has an article with plenty of photographs for you to enjoy.

They begin with:
Japan is a country with a whole lot of volcanoes of all shapes, sizes and persuasions. From the iconic Mt. Fuji to the recently erupted Mt. Ontake, you really can’t swing a koto around here without hitting a geological pressure cooker. And nowhere is that truer than the Aso-Kuju National Park in Kyushu, where they literally have volcanoes on top of volcanoes.
Although I didn't get to see much of Mt. Aso, at least I enjoyed the exhibits in their visitor center. Snow or no snow, I had an interesting adventure there.

Mt. Aso is covered in The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan on page 46.

To read the article and to check out the photos, go here

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