"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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Friday, October 21, 2016

Unknown Tourist Destinations In Japan

Above, the Great Buddha of Kamakura. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Many, if not most, kaiju fans are very familiar with the attractions Japan has to offer, even ones that have not been featured in a monster movie.

A survey of Western tourists found that there are quite a number of attractions, man-made and natural, are relatively unknown to them.

According to Travel + Leisure:
According to a recent report by the global consulting firm McKinsey and Company, some of Japan's most stunning destinations remain relatively unknown to Western tourists. 
The firm recently published an assessment that included results from a survey conducted this April, which asked 3,077 Western tourists whether they knew of 36 attractions in Japan. 
Sights included a mix of natural and cultural attractions, beaches, entertainment spaces, and shopping venues often cited in guidebooks and considered "major destinations" by residents. 
The places mentioned in the Travel + Leisure article I am personally familiar with. Some of which I have been to already.

To read more, go here.

Japan's "Automated" Love Hotels

Above, an Osaka love hotel's price menu. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Many (or most) Japanophiles are familiar with the Japanese love hotels.

They are usually found in different districts in major Japanese cities. We "stumbled" upon a cluster of them in the Dotonbori section of Osaka last year when we made a wrong turn.

The Huffington Post has an article on "automated" love hotels that, according to the article, are being noticed by foreign visitors.

They wrote:
Pop quiz: What does the term “automated love hotel” conjure in your imagination?
a) A place to have sex with robots
b) A hotel that eliminates the “check-in/check-out of shame” by automating the “front desk”
c) A place where two complete strangers can meet and fall in love automatically
d) All of the above, maybe

If you were in Japan, you would know the answer, instinctively. You would know that “love hotels,” automated or not, are, for the locals, by-the-hour hookup hubs, originally intended to provide respite for harried married couples that want more than a rice paper screen between them and their offspring when making noisy love. Or at least that is how the origin of the love hotel is described in polite society. 
Given the famously tight quarters of Japanese homes, it’s not surprising that a relatively sexually liberated culture would provide recreational havens for folks caught up in the critically important function of parenting, right? Plop the kids down in front of the computer, lock the front door and scoot down to the love hotel for an hour. What a concept! 
Here in the good ol’ U.S. of A., we are apt to refer to such establishments as “no-tell motels,” and very few provide hourly rates. But the U.S., compared to Japan, is still relatively puritanical, despite the increasing prevalence of more liberal attitudes toward sex.
Love hotels, obviously, are also used in the "cash and carry" (as referred to by J. R. Ewing) business of escorts and call girls.

To read more, go here.

Godzilla Keychains

Above, Godzilla 2016 and Mothra keychains.

Live Japan has posted a collection of Godzilla keychains.

Fan can get keychains of 2016 Godzilla, Manda, Jet Jaguar, Mothra, King Ghidorah, Hedorah and others.

According to the website (roughly translated by Google Translate):
Domestic and foreign Godzilla like good news! Shibu too Godzilla Keychain sumi-e touch, will be sold from "Gashapon" of Bandai. 
2016 movie "Shin Godzilla" is a big hit, Godzilla whirlwind happened wound. Still the heat is not Yara woke up, Godzilla-related goods appeared one after another. This Godzilla Keychain will be deployed in all 10 types, including the 2016 version.

To see more, go here

Thursday, October 20, 2016

When Democrats Get Desperate, They Get Nuttier

When Democrats become desperate in an election campaign, one can always count on them to get even nuttier than they already are.

The Democratic National Committee released a Spanish-language ad comparing Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. They didn't stop there. They lumped the late Venezuelan dictactor Hugo Chavez with them, and managed to piss off that country.

Fox News Latino reported:
It’s unclear whether the Venezuelan government is more upset that a new Democratic Party campaign ad for Hillary Clinton compared late President Hugo Chávez to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump or that they lumped the socialist leader together with fascist strongmen Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. 
What is clear is authorities from the South American nation slammed the so-called “racist arrogance” of U.S. Democrats.
Recent polls have begun to show that Donald Trump has gained on Hillary Clinton or, in some polls, passed her. This has not gone unnoticed by the DNC, which sent them into panic-mode and they put out the ad comparing Trump to some of the worst 20th Century despots.

The ad is even pretty low, even for the DNC. History has taught us that when Democrats get desperate, do even nuttier things than usual.

To read more, go here.

Megyn Kelly Grills Donna Brazile On Democrat Violence

Newt Gingrich On Final Debate

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Top 5 Travel Destinations According To Google Searches

Above, a bird's eye view of Asakusa and the Sumida River from the Tokyo Skytree. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The Internet is now the top source for people who are planning a vacation. With that, Google has become an integral part in vacation planning.

Condé Nast Traveler has posted the top five travel destinations according to Google searches.

They begin with:
Google is such a part of our lives these days that it's no longer "you are what you eat," it's "you are what you search." When it comes to travel, Google's data is a great way to get a sense of which places people are interested in visiting and exploring. The company revealed that this year the top five most Googled cities, in order, are Reykjavik, Havana, Toronto, Mexico City, and Tokyo. But how do cities manage to rise to the top of the Internet search world? It's a combination of access, affordability, and in some cases, historic changes that make a once closed-off destination the hottest ticket in town.

To read more, go here

Great News Yesterday

While I cannot specifically say too much about it for privacy reasons, but yesterday my former roomie Jessica received some fantastic news. She is now on a transplant list.

This has been something that we've been waiting for almost two years.

It had been stressful time since it all began in January 2014. It seemed like we had to jump through so many hoops to get to this point. We had the feeling that each time all the requirements were met, more would be added.

The feeling now is that we're finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

2016's Last Debate

Tonight's debate ended minutes ago.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump faced each other in debate for the last time during this campaign. There were far less fireworks tonight than in the last debate that had a townhall format. This one had the same format as the first.

My reaction is that much of it was generally a rehashing of prior debate points by both candidates, particularly by Hillary Clinton. She did not present anything new. Trump did present some things that hadn't been brought up previously: WikiLeaks, the Democrat financing of violent thugs to attend Trump rallies and the "pay to play" schemes of the Clinton Foundation. Clinton tried her best to not answer questions on any of them. WikiLeaks was brought up sufficiently enough, in my view, to cause curious people to look up the revelations that have come out.

This debate was largely even between the two with Trump getting in better jabs. Trump missed a great opportunity to go after Clinton for her treatment of the women her husband abused when she attacked him for Trump's alleged mistreatment of women. Hillary was the "attack dog" against them when her husband's "bimbo eruptions" took place. Trump could and should have pointed that out. A sample group of undecided voters were not enthralled with Clinton's rant about Russian President Vladimir Putin. In fact, they were put off from it.

I thought Fox News' Chris Wallace handled this debate better than any of the previous moderators. He asked both tough questions and kept the debate in better control and admonished the studio audience to keep quiet several times.

For tonight, I would give Trump a slight edge. If he needed a knockout punch, he didn't provide one. But, as I said, he got in more and better jabs than did Clinton.

The Exiting, Vibrant City of Osaka

Above, interesting sign at the "foodie" section of Osaka, Dotonbori. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

If one is planning a trip to Japan, they should also try to include a visit to Osaka in their itinerary. 

While it is a large city, it has a more relaxed and different vibe to it than Tokyo (but I enjoy them both). I visited Osaka a year ago and enjoyed it.

Above, Osaka Castle. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

To help a potential visitor to make up his or her mind about visiting Osaka, the Daily Express (U.K) has an article that just may be the convincing clincher.

It begins with:
What with Google Earth, YouTube and more travel blogs that you can shake a selfie stick at, it's rare for anywhere to come as a complete surprise these days. 
Yet, despite all of the above - and what I quaintly imagined was some exhaustive research - Osaka did exactly that. 
People I met in Tokyo had raised their eyebrows ever so slightly when I told them where I was travelling next.  
Osaka, I was led gently to believe, was regarded as somewhat louche.  
Given that this is Japan, where that could mean anything from loosening your tie to a full-scale Bacchanalian orgy, I wasn't quite sure what to expect.  
What I found, however, was an astonishing, vibrant, exciting city and the very warmest of welcomes.
Godzilla fans can visit Osaka locations used in two movies, Godzilla Raids Again (1955) and Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989).

To read more about Osaka, go here.

Sparing Kyoto and Nara During World War II

Above, the pagoda at Kiyomizu-dera in Kyoto. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

There is much debate over how the Japanese cities of Kyoto and Nara were spared destruction during World War II and who gave the order to spare them.

Japan Visitor has an interesting interview article of that discusses this.

It starts with:
Of course I had heard that the savior of Kyoto was Langdon Warner, the beloved and inspiring teacher of Oriental art at Harvard's Fogg Museum. He was a Boston Brahmin, disarming in his ingenuousness and aplomb. In 1906, shortly after graduation from Harvard, he was sent to Japan to study under the celebrated curator and connoisseur Okakura Kakuzo. 
Later he married a cousin of President Theodore Roosevelt's and was well-known to the emerging group of Japanese art historians of America, all of whom benefited greatly from his grasp of Oriental art. 
Among Warner's close friends were many of Okakura's disciples for several of whom he arranged invitations to lecture at Harvard in the 1930's. Ties among the fraternity of art historians were put to the test but strengthened as the relations worsened between America and Japan during the 1930's; they were, of course, completely severed during the war years. 
Therefore, the virtually complete survival of Kyoto and Nara brought great joy and relief to art lovers on both sides of the Pacific. In short order, speculation compounded rumor, and an understandable rationale with uniquely Japanese overtones evolved for the consideration the Americans had shown for these two cities.

Read more: http://www.japanvisitor.com/japanese-history/saving-kyoto#ixzz4NY0qxmFS

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Shades of Donald Segretti: Dirty Tricks Exposed

The revelations that have been coming out from WikiLeaks and Project Veritas Action have shed new light on the chicanery of the Clinton Machine. They make Watergate look like child's play.

Do you wonder why the Democrats oppose voter i.d. laws? That's because they are up to their smelly armpits in voter fraud. Scott Foval is, or was, the Clinton's Donald Segretti.

Check out this video:

Japan ranked as having the Top Two Best Cities in Condé Nast Traveler's Reader's Choice Awards' Best Cities in the World

Above, a view of Tokyo from Tokyo City View at Roppongi Hills. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Source: Press Release

NEW YORK, Oct. 18, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) is pleased to share the news that the Condé Nast Traveler's Readers' Choice Awards 2016, announced on October 18, 2016, has nominated Tokyo as the top and Kyoto as the second best cities to visit in the World. Tokyo was ranked 15th and Kyoto 9th in the Readers' Choice Award 2015. This new top ranking is a great honor for the country of Japan.

Full content details can be found at:

This flattering award of Tokyo and Kyoto becoming the top two best cities in the world to visit is the result of various efforts from the support of the following:

  1. The continued effort of the people of Japan in providing Omotenashi, the art of selfless hospitality, and the best customer service, to showcase the beauty of the country and their care for foreign visitors from all over the world.
  2. JNTO's Visit Japan promotional efforts with the intend to make Japan an easier and more affordable destination for one's next international travel.

As of August 2016, the total number of visitors from the United States to Japan has been reaching the highest records per month for 29 months straight. From January 2016 to August 2016, the total number of travelers from the U.S. has now reached eight-hundred-seventeen-thousand (817,600 to be exact), this is a 19.9% increase from the previous year. Furthermore, the total number of visitors from the U.S. in 2015, reached more than one million visitors (1,033,258 to be exact), with 15.9% increase from the year before. (Provided by JNTO)

JNTO will continue to serve to keep and expand Japan as one of the best international travel destinations in the world by enriching our effort to showcase and communicate the Japanese tradition, pop culture, food, architecture and multi-dimensional beauty of Japan.

Cover Ideas: "The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan" 2nd Edition

Above, the cover to the current edition.

Now that I've seen Shin Godzilla (Godzilla Resurgence) twice, I can now finish work on the updated edition of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan. I'll do that after my upcoming cross-country trip to Metropolis, Illinois.

Hopefully, I can finish it in time and get it to the publisher with enough time to promote it in the U.S. and in Japan by around April.

The real standouts as far as locations are concerned from Shin Godzilla are Tokyo Bay (near Yokohama), the Tama River and the historic Tokyo Station. I'll be adding those places into the travel guide.

If anyone has any suggestions for additions, feel free to let me know in the comments section for this blog post.

For the new edition's cover, I am considering these photographs (feel free to post your preference in the comments section):

1. Shinjuku Godzilla

2. Hibiya Godzilla Statue

3. Godzilla Slide

Tokyo Skytree Offering Rock 'n Roll Kabuki Show and City Views

Above, the Tokyo Skytree at night. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

If you are planning to visit Tokyo within the next three months, Tokyo Skytree is offering a special combination of classic rock 'n roll with fantastic nighttime city views.

The Asahi Shimbun reported:
A rock 'n' roll Kabuki show is now upstaging the spectacular view of Tokyo from an observation deck on the tallest broadcasting tower in the world. 
Visitors to Tokyo Skytree in the capital's Sumida Ward can watch the unique fusion of Kabuki dance and rock classic for the next three months 350 meters up the 634-meter-tall tower.
Above, inside the observation deck with the windows in the background. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The show will be projected on the upper portions of the observation deck's windows.

To read more, go here.

If You Think Weirdos Are Only In The U.S., Guess Again

Above, tour companies generally take tour group photos at Kiyomizu-dera's Nio-mon gate. Here's ours from last year.

The Tokyo Reporter is a website that focuses on weird and criminal stories out of Japan. 

Generally, Japan is a safe place to visit with a low crime rate. But that doesn't mean that there are no deviant and criminal behaviors there.

The latest is from Kyoto, Japan where a school teacher was recently arrested at Kiyomizu-dera.

They reported:
KYOTO (TR) – Kyoto Prefectural Police have arrested a 55-year-old male school teacher for allegedly taking illicit films of a woman on the grounds of Kiyomizu Temple  after a news crew on the scene to report on such crimes observed the suspect behaving strangely, reports the Asahi Shimbun (Oct. 17). 
At around 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, Yoshikazu Tamura, a teacher at Kumeda High School in Kishiwada City, Osaka Prefecture is alleged to have filmed up the skirt of a female university student, 18, as she sat on some steps at the Nio-mon gate about 20 meters away.
To read more, go here


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Masami Nagasawa To Promote Taiwan Tourism

Above, Masami Nagasawa (right) during her shobijin days.

Here's a blast from the past!

Japan Today reported:
TAIPEI —Japanese actress Masami Nagasawa will be the spokeswoman for Taiwan’s tourism in Japan for the coming year, the island’s Tourism Bureau said Monday, marking the first time a woman was picked for the position. 
Wayne Liu, the bureau’s deputy director general, told a press conference in Taipei that as Taiwan sees an increasing number of female visitors, he hopes Nagasawa will attract more Japanese tourists to Taiwan, especially women. 
The 29-year-old actress, who is in Taiwan to make a promotional film for the Tourism Bureau, told the same press conference that she felt honored to be chosen.
Nagasawa should be familiar to Godzilla and Mothra fans. She appeared as one of the Mothra shobijin in two Godzilla movies, Godzilla x Mothra x Mechagodzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003) and in Godzilla Final Wars (2004).

To read more, go here.

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