"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.

Buy The Amazon Kindle Store Ebook Edition

Buy The Amazon Kindle Store Ebook Edition
Get the ebook edition here! (Click image.)

Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

In L.A., 2013 is a less than three hours away.

2012 wasn't bad, but financially, it could've been better.  One thing I can be grateful for: NO family member funerals to attend.  That hasn't been the case for quite some time.

Will 2013 be better?  Maybe.  But it looks to be a continuance of 2012 or worse if the federal government raises taxes on top of the new Obamacare taxes that we'll be saddled with.

As for California, things are getting bad to worse with the one-party state government thinking that the people exist to fund the government, not the government existing to serve the people.  I am starting to consider moving out of California.  It was once the "Golden State."  Not anymore.

I am looking forward to the Mad Monster Party that's coming up in three months in Charlotte, North Carolina.  I haven't been on the east coast since June 1982.

I plan to be at the New Year's celebration in Little Tokyo tomorrow.

Happy New Year!

January 1 In Japan; First Batch of Nakajima Birthday Greetings Sent

Above, Sonoe and Haruo Nakajima in 2008.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

It is now New Year's Day in Japan (they are 17 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time) and Haruo "Mr. Godzilla" Nakajima's 84th birthday.

I have sent the birthday greetings on to his daughter Sonoe to pass on to him.  I will send more to her as more continue to come in.

If you want to post your birthday greetings for Mr. Nakajima, go here.

China Says Senkaku Islands Are Part of Japan In 1950 Document

The dispute between Japan and China over some islands got a little bit more interesting as a diplomatic document from May 1950 has turned up.

According to Kyodo News:
A Chinese diplomatic draft in 1950 on a peace treaty with Japan indicated Chinese recognition of the Senkaku Islands as part of the Ryukyu Islands, sources familiar with the document said Friday. 
The wording in the draft for the Chinese government uses the name Senkaku Islands and indicates China understood the islands to be under the government of what is now Okinawa Prefecture, the sources said. 
The recognition that the islands were part of the Ryukyu Islands contradicts Beijing's current claim that the islands are part of Taiwan and belong to its own territory from ancient times.

According to the Japanese government, it wasn't until the 1970s that China started claiming the sovereignty over the islands.

To read the full article, go here.

China is now trying to downplay the diplomatic draft according to this article. They are trying to dismiss it as it is "unsigned."  It appears China is speaking out of both sides of its mouth.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

New Year's Day In Little Tokyo

Above, a taiko drum performer wows the crowd.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

If I can manage to get out of bed early enough, I hope to head (again) to Little Tokyo for this coming New Year's Day celebration (Oshogatsu).

Above, fan dancers perform at Weller Court.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.
It is a fun event with entertainment, food booths, Japanese goods vendors and many Japanese ladies colorfully dressed in kimonos.

Above, colorful kimonos on display.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.
The event is held throughout Little Tokyo with the main area of entertainment at Weller Court.

The last one I attended was on New Year's Day of 2011.  I think I had to work the night before this year's celebration, so I missed it.  The accompanying photos are from the celebration of 2011.

Above, the crowds gather at Onizuka Square.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

If you happen to be in Los Angeles on New Year's Day, I urge you to consider attending the Oshogatsu celebration in Little Tokyo.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

T.O.T. (Teishokuya of Tokyo)

Above, the front of Teishokuya of Tokyo Japanese restaurant.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.
Thanks to JapanUp! magazine, Jes and I had an excellent dinner at T.O.T. (Teishokuya of Tokyo) in Little Tokyo.  I had won a gift certificate through the magazine and we used it tonight (as it expires December 31).

Above, the interior of Teishokuya of Tokyo.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.
First off, it is a small, brightly lit restaurant (it probably can seat up to 100 people) with a friendly staff of servers.  Right away, the servers brought our water and sake (It was excellent sake, by the way.  Nice and smooth).

Jes ordered the Abri Salmon and I ordered the Seafood Kabob.  We decided we'd share what we ordered in order to get more than one opinion on the dishes.  For appetizers, she ordered the seaweed salad and I ordered the cream cheese wontons.

The seaweed salad was excellent as were the cream cheese wontons.  We were both pleased with the Abri Salmon (it was nice and light with no overwhelming taste).  I thought the Seafood Kebobs were good, but Jes thought the shrimp and scallops were a tad little overcooked (grilled).  To me, they were fine.  However, we both thought the vegetables were great and cooked just right with the ginger soy sauce.

Above, the building in Little Tokyo containing Teishokuya of Tokyo.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.
She gave Teishokuya of Tokyo four stars out of five, while I gave it four and a half stars out of five.  We both agreed that Teishokuya of Tokyo was the best Japanese restaurant we've been to in Los Angeles.

T.O.T. (Teishokuya of Tokyo) is located at 345 E. 2nd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012.  Phone  (213) 680-0344.

Little Tokyo Bound

Above, the travel section of the Kinokuniya bookstore in Little Tokyo.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Today's the day that we'll be trying out T.O.T. (Teishokuya of Tokyo) Japanese restaurant in the Little Tokyo section of downtown Los Angeles.

Back in September, I won a gift certificate for T.O.T. from Japan Up! magazine.  It expires on Monday, so we decided to redeem it today and try out their cuisine.

While in Little Tokyo, I'll be stopping by the Kinokuniya bookstore in Weller Court to pick up a 2013 calendar.  The thing I like about Japanese calendars is that each page contains two months.  This makes scheduling a little easier as one can look at the coming month at a glance without having to turn pages.

The Little Tokyo Kinokuniya carries The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan in their travel section.

Monster Japan Travel Guide Ebook Ad In The Japan Times

As mentioned previously, the ads for Amazon's Kindle Store ebook edition of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan are popping up again all over the Internet now that the Christmas holiday is over.

I was perusing The Japan Times website and the ad appeared at the top of the page:

The Japan Times is one of Japan's largest newspapers and their online edition is widely read.  They began publishing on March 22, 1897.  According to The Japan Times:

The Japan Times 
In addition to economic, political, sports and hard news, other information includes commentaries from opinion leaders in various fields, editorials that reflect Japanese public opinion, regional features on everyday life and articles on culture and entertainment. Ever aware that readers of The Japan Times are from many nations and have diverse interests, viewpoints and cultural backgrounds, we take great care to produce a responsible newspaper that is impartial and balanced. Through our tieups with overseas news agencies and newspapers, our readers have access to stories that enable them to not only know what is going on in the world but also to gain insight into what people of other countries are thinking and, at the same time, to rediscover Japan itself.
The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan was reviewed by The Japan Times back on May 27.

To read The Japan Times, go here.

2013: "King Kong vs. Godzilla" U.S. Version Hits 50

2013 marks not only the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination, it also marks the 50th anniversary of the U.S. release of King Kong vs. Godzilla by Universal International.  It was released on June 17, 1963.

Unfortunately, the heavily-edited finished product was not as good as the original 1954 Godzilla Americanization by Terry Morse.  The movie was originally scripted to be satirical, which was lost in the U.S. version.  Much footage (along with most of Akira Ifukube's score) in the U.S. version was also cut out.

On the good side, at least the movie did make money.

At the Mad Monster Party convention in March, I'll make sure it is covered during Haruo Nakajima's sessions.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Dollar Gaining More Ground Against The Yen

The U.S. dollar continues to gain ground against the Japanese yen.

Jiji Press reported:

Tokyo, Dec. 28 (Jiji Press)--The dollar rose further to 29-month highs around 86.50 yen in Tokyo trading on Friday, backed by unflagging hopes for bold fiscal spending and monetary easing under the new Japanese administration.

This continues the good news for Japanese exporters (a stronger dollar makes Japanese goods more affordable in the United States) and tourists to Japan (they get more yen for each dollar exchanged).

For more, go here.

"Godzilla" Announces Retirement

Major League Baseball's biggest Japanese import, known affectionally as "Godzilla," is retiring.

According to News On Japan:

Japanese slugger Hideki Matsui, the Most Valuable Player of the 2009 World Series, announced his retirement today.

Matsui has been in professional baseball for twenty years (is is now 38) and made a cameo appearance in Godzilla x Mechagodzilla in 2002.

Above, yours truly in Toho International's conference room that
was adorned with Matsui "Godzilla" jerseys in 2005.  Photo by Masaharu Ina.

To read the full story, go here.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

"The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan" Kindle Store Ads Are Back

Now that Christmas 2012 is over, the Harry & David and other ads are gone and "normal" advertising has returned.  The Amazon Kindle Store ad for the ebook edition of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan has been showing up on different websites again.

Today, I went over to the Classic Horror Film Board Forum and ads for the travel guide have been popping up there.

Here's one of them:

That explains why sales have suddenly jumped up!  Today, it is ranked #31 in Amazon's "Best Sellers In Japanese Travel."

Gerry Anderson, R.I.P.

The creator of television shows Supercar, Fireball XL5, Thunderbirds, Space: 1999 and others has died.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

Gerry Anderson, the British creator of the TV series “Thunderbirds” renowned for his original and influential use of marionettes on TV, has died following a lengthy battle with mixed dementia. He was 83. 
Anderson’s adult son Jamie made the announcement, according to the Associated Press. He said that his father died peacefully in his sleep on Wednesday at a nursing home in Oxfordshire, England.

Above, Fireball XL5 on launcher.

Anderson was known for his marionette puppetry technique that used ultra-thin wires.  I first saw this in the Supercar series in the early 1960s and then in Fireball XL5 (Anderson's then-wife Sylvia was the voice of Venus in the series), which was one of my favorite shows when it aired locally in 1963.

About six years ago, I attended a retrospective on Anderson's career at the American Cinemateque that was held at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood.  A number of his shows, including Fireball XL5, were shown.  Although I hadn't seen the show since its run, all of its themes and characters were very familiar to me as if they were seen just days before. I now have a complete box set of Fireball XL5 episodes.

For the full story, go here.

"Yuru-kyara" Character Craze In Japan

Above, "yuru-kyara" characters at the JR Niigata Station.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Cuddly creatures seem to have taken over various parts, if not all, of Japan.

An interesting article has been posted at Kyodo News on these critters.  It reads, in part:

It is no surprise that Japan's democracy has been infected by the craze for "yuru-kyara," or "loose characters." A growing army of yuru-kyara is inundating Japan with hundreds of soft, plush mascots representing municipalities, government organizations and companies with a uniquely Japanese mix of cute and bizarre.

I saw some promoting something at Niigata JR Station two years ago (photo at top and below).  Until now, I didn't know what these plush critters were called.  One at the top photo seems to be sporting an amulet like the ones in the Shusuke Kaneko Gamera movies of the 1990s.

To read the full article, go here.

Dollar Reaches ¥85

The U.S. dollar continues to make progress against the Japanese yen.

Kyodo News reported:

The U.S. dollar climbed above the 85 yen line for the first time in 20 months in Tokyo trading Wednesday as Liberal Democratic Party chief Shinzo Abe reclaimed the premiership after campaigning for drastic monetary easing by the Bank of Japan.

This is good news for Japanese exporters and American travelers to Japan.

To read the full article, go here.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all!

Since it is customary to have a snowy scene when discussing Christmas, I am opening this post with a snow photo (above) taken in 2007 up at the Mt. Aso Volcano National Park in Kyushu, Japan ropeway station area.

Today's going to be a kick-back day of doing vitually little or nothing.

My daughter gave me a copy of David J. Skal's Hollywood Gothic: The Tangled Web of Dracula from Novel to Stage and Screen.

I will probably have my nose in the book today while enjoying some Blue Moon Belgian White Ale.

Charles Durning and Jack Klugman, R.I.P.

It seems that a lot of old time celebrities pass away during the holiday season.  This year is no exception, unfortunately.

Charles Durning, passed away at age 89.  I first remembered him in the 1977 thriller, Twilight's Last Gleaming in which he played the President of the United States.  I thought he bore an uncanny resemblance to a manager of the Los Angeles Times phone bank in Redondo Beach.  He played a wide range of rolls from drama to comedy such as Tootsie.  He was also known as the "King of Character Actors."  He also was part of the first wave of allied soldiers to land in Normandy during D-Day and was a P.O.W. during the Battle of the Bulge during World War II.  He was awarded the Silver Star and three Purple Hearts.


Jack Klugman, best known as Oscar Madison in the television show The Odd Couple and as medical examiner Quincy in a show of the same name, died at age 90.

Christmas Eve

Above, yours truly and cousin Maria on Christmas Eve.

The rainy weather we've been having for the past few days broke yesterday, which made for a fine Christmas Eve at my cousin Maria's in Wildomar in the Lake Elsinore area.

The drive, to and from, was one of the easiest.  It took an hour and a half to get to Maria's.  The same goes for the drive home in the San Fernando Valley.

The Lindbergh Beacon atop Los Angeles City Hall was lit up last night, although I almost missed it as fog set in at the L.A. Civic Center.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Frequency Picks Up Monster Japan Travel Guide Slideshow Video

Above, Yuu Asakura with "The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan."  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Frequency.com has picked up the YouTube slideshow video on The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

What is Frequency?  According to their About page:

Frequency is a personal video service that lets you watch videos from anywhere on the internet in one place. Frequency turns the best websites and social media sites into video channels, gathering all the videos you love in real time. You’ll find videos from all of your favorite sources and all the videos your friends are sharing on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more.

To view the site, go here.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

What James Bond Did For Japan

Above, Akiko Wakabayashi and Sean Connery at the sumo stadium
in "You Only Live Twice."  Photo: United Artists.

In 1967, James Bond 007 (in the form of Sean Connery) had a mission to stop the hijacking of U.S. and U.S.S.R. space capsules by S.P.E.C.T.R.E. to prevent a war between the two nations.  That mission took him to Japan.  The movie was You Only Live Twice.

As this year is the fiftieth anniversary of the James Bond movies, the Japan Times took a look at what Bond did for Japan in "The Gentleman In The Tux and What He Did For Japan."

Along with Connery, Toho actresses Akiko Wakabayashi and Mie Hama were featured as Japanese agents Aki and Kissy Suzuki respectively.

The article starts out with:
In 1967, James Bond made his official Japan debut in "You Only Live Twice": The gentleman spy came to Tokyo and Fukuoka, saw some sumo, consorted with ninja and got intimate with two homegrown Bond girls. Directed by Lewis Gilbert, "You Only Live Twice" goes down in Japan's collective memory as the one and only time 007 made it to these shores.
The movie version of You Only Live Twice is quite different from Ian Fleming's novel, although both are centered in Japan.

On working with Connery, Wakabayashi said in my interview with her, "James Bond in the movie is a ladies' man, but Sean-san is a warm-hearted honest man. He has a clear vision as an actor. He can be stubborn from time to time, but he is a real man with a bit of old-fashioned taste."

One bit of trivia:  the location used for Osato Chemicals in Tokyo was the New Otani Hotel.

To read the full article, go here.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Japan To Break 2010 Tourism Record Next Year, JTB Predicts

Above, Senso-ji temple in Asakusa, Tokyo.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

2010 saw a record number of tourists visit Japan (I was one of them).  8.61 million people visited Japan that year.  The numbers plummeted the following year due to the March 11, 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and the resulting tsunami and radiation disaster.

JTB Corp., one of Japan's leading travel agencies, predicts that 2013 will beat that record.

According to News on Japan:
In 2013, tourism is projected to climb 7.9 percent to 8.9 million, breaking the record high of 8.61 million set in 2010, JTB Corp. said.
 To read the full article, go here.

JNTO Re-Categorizes and Divides Tourism Information Centers

Above, the Asahi Beer Hall and "golden flame" in Tokyo.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The Japan National Tourism Organization has re-categorized tourist information centers.

e Travel Blackboard reports:

In order to make for a more inviting and welcoming experience, the Japan National Tourism Organisation (JNTO) and the Japan Tourism Agency has created a new certification program for tourist information offices throughout Japan. 
 The JNTO operates the Tourist Information Center (TIC) in Tokyo and supports tourist information offices operated by the private and public sectors across Japan.

The new certification program divides these offices into three categories based on functionality.

To read the full article, go here.

Visiting The Imperial Palace

Above, the Nijubashi Bridge.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Ever wanted to enter the Imperial Palace (home of the Emperor of Japan) grounds but thought this impossible (except by invitation)?

Japan Today has posted an article on visiting the Imperial Palace grounds and when.

They start it with:
TOKYO —Other than the Imperial Palace East Garden, which is open daily, the Imperial Palace Grounds are open to the general public, via Nijubashi Bridge, only two days of the year: on the Emperor’s Birthday (Dec 23) and New Year’s (Jan 2). 
On both occasions, after completion of a security check, each visitor is given a paper Japanese flag and passes across the 19th century stone bridge and the Nijubishi Bridge behind it to gather in a large courtyard outside the Imperial Palace itself, a building constructed in the 1960s. The emperor and several members of his family appear on a glass enclosed balcony at fixed times throughout the day and the emperor delivers a short, formal greeting to the crowd, which responds by waiving the Japanese flags.

Above, one of the gates to the Imperial Palace property.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.
To read the full article, go here.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Legendary Pictures' Godzilla News

A little tidbit of news on the Legendary Pictures/Warner Bros. production of Godzilla has been posted over at Comic Book Movie.com.
The movie is currently in pre-production and will be approached in a more realistic fashion.
An excerpt of an interview with producer Dan Lin in Collider provided some news:
"We’re planning to film in March. We are in deep pre-production. Gareth [Edwards] has really mapped out his vision for the movie, you saw the teaser, but Gareth—thanks to [Legendary CEO] Thomas Tull’s help—he took over a whole stage on the Warner Brothers lot and not only showed the teaser you saw, he had some models built of Godzilla, he had art decorated all over the soundstage, he had pre-vis of some of the big action sequences in the movie."
Noted G-fan Stan Hyde ought to be ecstatic as Lin indicates the movie may be filmed in his backyard:
"Most likely it's filming in Vancouver."

Their vision of Godzilla will be: What would happen if Godzilla came into our world today?

The theatrical target date is set for March 16, 2014.

Read more at http://www.comicbookmovie.com/fansites/BatFreak/news/?a=71552#5Dxzou7cWqcbFw4e.99

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

"Godzilla vs. Biollante's" Osaka Business District

The new Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989) Blu-ray contains "The Making of Godzilla vs. Biollante" extra featurette.  In it, the location shoot at the Twin 21 in the Osaka Business District is shown.

For the Osaka Business District special effects scenes, two sets were made, one indoors in a sound stage and one outdoors.

The photo at top is the actual Osaka Business District in 2004 as appeared in a video I made at the time from the observation deck of Osaka Castle.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Mexican Beauty Queen Killed In Shootout; Fast & Furious Weapon Found At Scene

Above, Maria Susana Flores Gamez.

From CBS News:

Another weapon from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agency's controversial Operation Fast and Furious was recently recovered at a Mexican crime scene, CBS News has learned. Congressional investigators say the crime scene was likely where a recent shootout took place between reported Sinaloa drug cartel members and the Mexican military, in which Sinaloa beauty queen Maria Susana Flores Gamez and four others were killed.

Operation Fast and Furious was set up supposedly to track weapons from the U.S. into Mexico (despite no means of actually tracking them) by the Obama Administration.  2,000 weapons (including .50 caliber guns) ended up in the hands of drug cartels in Mexico where they were used to kill at least 300 people, including border patrol agent Brian Terry.

The actual motive was to blame the gun dealers (who were working for the Justice Dept.'s ATF) for the weapons ending up in Mexico so that gun control legislation would pass the then-Democrat controlled Congress.  But the fiasco involving Terry's killing blew up in their faces.

Now, following the tragedy of Sandy Hook in Connecticut, the same Obama Administration, who is responsible over the Fast and Furious fiasco, is beating the drums for gun control.

The Obama Administration has more blood on its hands than the killer of Sandy Hook.

For the full story, go here.

"The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan" Holiday Sale Ends Next Monday

Above, Yuu Asakura with "The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan."  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Benzinga.com has posted the news on the holiday sale of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

Speaking of which, the sale has been doing quite well this year, but it is about to end this coming Monday, December 24 (Christmas Eve).  If you're sitting on the fence, now's the time to take advantage of the 20% sale.  The price include shipping and handling!

About Benzinga.com:

Benzinga is a dynamic and innovative financial media outlet that empowers investors with high-quality, unique content that is coveted by Wall Street's top traders. Benzinga provides timely, actionable ideas that help users navigate even the most uncertain and volatile markets – in real-time with an unmatched caliber 
From breakouts to unusual volume, analyst ratings, futures and options, Benzinga is the leading full-service, one-stop shop for investors of all stripes and styles. 
We have three offices in total: Delaware, Michigan, and Chicago, IL. If you are interested in doing business with Benzinga, please contact us.

To read Benzinga's post, go here.

Tour Japan With Chef David Bouley

Above, the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo is included on the tour's itinery.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Food/culinary and Japan enthusiasts are being offered a unique way to see Japan.

Forbes.com has posted:

Chef David Bouley, James Beard Award-winner, is offering a rather scrumptious way for you to see Japan. It’s an exclusive adventure to see, taste, smell and feel the country focusing on its unique cuisine. Award-winning Asia Transpacific Journeys has just announced a one-shot itinerary March 4-13, 2013, in collaboration with Food & Wine Magazine
With insights and access that only Chef Bouley and Food & Wine can offer, this tour promises first-class exposure to the best of Japan: meet craftsmen, enjoy tea ceremonies, art, shopping, temples and shrines for nine days.

Japanese cities to be visited include Tokyo, Nagano and Kyoto.

For details, go here.

Sen. Daniel Inouye Dies At 88

Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye passed away yesterday at Walter Reed Military Medical Center at age 88.  The cause of death was said to be due to respiratory complications.

He was a rare Democrat that I had admiration for.

The Washington Post has an excellent obituary on Inouye, to view it go here.

My earliest recollection of Inouye was during the Senate Watergate hearings back in 1973.  During the hearings, John Ehrlichman’s attorney referred to Sen. Inouye as “that little Jap” when an unguarded moment with a live microphone caught Inouye refer to Ehrlichman as a "liar."  When this happened, I was working as a Field Representative for Japanese-American California Assemblyman Paul T. Bannai in Gardena and KABC-TV sent reporters to our office for the Assembyman's reaction.

Inouye's experiences during World War II are vividly recounted in Ken Burns's "The War" series.  It was shown on PBS a few years ago, but is now available on DVD.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Haruo Nakajima's 84th Birthday

Above, Haruo Nakajima in 2008.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Haruo "Mr. Godzilla" will be turning 84 this coming January 1.  He was born on January 1, 1929 in Yamagata, Japan.

As has been a tradition for the past several years, fans wanting to extend their birthday greetings to Mr. Nakajima can post them below in the comments.  I will begin to forward them to his daughter Sonoe on January 1.

Mr. Nakajima will be a special guest at the Mad Monster Party convention this coming March 22-24, 2013 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Dollar Reaches ¥84 For The First Time In 9 Months

There's good news for travelers to Japan and Japanese exporters.

Jiji Press reported:

Tokyo, Dec. 17 (Jiji Press)--The dollar retook 84 yen in Tokyo Monday for the first time in nine months, attracting strong purchases after the Liberal Democratic Party won a landslide in Japan's general election Sunday. 

At 5:00 p.m., the dollar was quoted at ¥84.00-02.

To read the full story, go here.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Brit's Eye View of Japan

Above, Senso-ji temple in Asakusa.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The United Kingdom's Daily Mail has posted an article on a Brit's recent visit to Japan.

Here's an excerpt:

I went to see how Japan was recovering, travelling overnight from London and arriving at breakfast time. My itinerary included the perfect jet-lag relief, the Bullet Train. I could relax and doze for three hours as this symbol of Japanese post-war renaissance zipped south to Kyoto. This train is sleek, comfortable, furiously fast and makes Japan one of the easiest places to visit.

It is an interesting read for anyone who is interested in Japan or visiting it.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-2248942/Japan-holidays-My-exquisitely-polite-introduction-wonders-Japan.html#ixzz2FFRHn2rh
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

"Godzilla vs. Biollante" (1989) Blu-ray

My Blu-ray of Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989) arrived in the mail today and I managed to skim through it.  I am very pleased at how the movie looks and sounds.  Echo Bridge did a great job on it!

It is hard to believe that this movie is 23 years old!

The choices in sound include 5.1 DTS Original Japanese Language; 2.0 Japanese Language; 1.0 Dolby Original English Language.  One has several choices on subtitles: English language on-screen text; English subtitles translated from original Japanese language; English SDH subtitled to match the English audio track.

Finally, I can watch Godzilla vs. Biollante without that annoying dub ("Godziller," indeed!) that was on the old HBO VHS version.

The Special Feature included is the "Making of Godzilla vs. Biollante" (Behind The Design).  I skimmed through it and it was fun to see Kenpachiro Satsuma in the late, great big pool at Toho Studios in his Heisei Godzilla suit.  It made me a bit nostalgic of my 2001 visit to Toho Studios and being able to see the big pool  and studio as they looked before the pool was removed and new sound stages built.

Above, Richard Pusateri admires Toho's big pool in 2001.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.
From what I've seen so far (I just skimmed through the movie this evening), the Blu-ray edition of Godzilla vs. Biollante is definitely a must-have for Godzilla fans.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Dealey Plaza Restoration In Progress

Above, a view of Elm Street, the grassy knoll and the John Neely Bryan pergola
in Dealey Plaza from Main Street.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Three blog posts ago, I mentioned Dealey Plaza, the site of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and the 50th anniversary of that event in U.S. history next year.  It just so happens that Dealey Plaza is currently being restored.

WFAA-TV (of the Dallas-Fort Worth area) has an article on the restoration (from last May) and they wrote:

DALLAS - Plans are underway to restore the historic Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas in time for the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. 
The two-acre site, completed in 1941, has gone largely untouched for much of its more than 70 years. 
The plans include repairing structural damage, updating the fountains in the two reflecting pools and bringing some sidewalks into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

To read the full article (video included), go here.

Tokyo Tower and Tsukiji Fish Market News

Above, Tokyo Tower is still a prominent fixture in Tokyo.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Tokyo Tower has been neglected since the opening of the Tokyo Sky Tree earlier this year.  But things are looking up for the ol' gal.

Japan Times reports:

A potent symbol of Japan's postwar economic rebirth, Tokyo Tower could soon be formally recognized as a tangible cultural asset, having been nominated for the prestigious designation by a government advisory body Friday, along with 125 other structures. 
The Council for Cultural Affairs filed the proposal with education minister Makiko Tanaka, and the government is expected to endorse the tower's nomination in the not-too-distant future.

To read the full article, go here.


Above, merchants such as this one near the current Tsukiji Fish Market may have a new home
at a new marketplace planned for the fish market's new location.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

A plan has been unveiled for the creation of a new marketplace for 100 merchants at the relocated Tsukiji Fish Market.

According to Japan Times:
According to the plans, two commercial buildings will be constructed on a 4,000-sq.-meter site that is now being used as a parking lot for Tsukiji visitors. The facilities will hold approximately 100 shops selling fish and fresh vegetables, but will also include a multipurpose public hall.
The Tsukiji Fish Market is scheduled to be transferred to the new facility in the Toyosu district in Koto Ward by the end of fiscal 2014.

To read the full story, go here.

Evil Will Do What It Sets Out To Do

Every time a massacre such as the one that happened today in Newtown, Connecticut occurs, responsible gun owners (and I include myself in this) cringe with disgust.  Because each time they do occur, the same people start politicizing the tragedy for their own agendas and begin anew their knee-jerk attacks on gun owners and the National Rifle Association.  It's happening again.  They say, "it is time to have a conversation about guns."  The "conversation" they always have in mind is the stripping of our constitutional rights through "gun control."  No, thank you.

Evil will do what it sets out to do, no matter what means is used to perpetrate the evil deed.   If it isn't guns, it is knives (such an occurrence happened today in China where 22 children were slashed at a school).  If it isn't knives, they will use something else (bombs, Molotov cocktails, etc.).

People are being desensitized by violent Hollywood movies, games, sensational news stories and vile public discourse.  (Only a few days ago, Michigan Democrat politician Doug Geiss declared, "There will be blood!" over the state's new right-to-work law. And, Teamsters Union President James Hoffa threatened "civil war" over the same issue.)  This needs to change.   Unhinged people pick up on this stuff and sometimes act on it.

This was indeed a tragedy and my prayers go out to the people who lost a family member or friend today.

According to this headline posted at the Drudge Report:

Ryan Lanza, 24, brother of gunman Adam Lanza, 20, tells authorities that his younger brother is autistic, or has Asperger syndrome and a “personality disorder.” Neighbors described the younger man to ABC as “odd” and displaying characteristics associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Dallas, Texas 1984

Next November will mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy.  I was going through my photo album of my visit to Dallas, Texas where I was on the California Delegation to the 1984 Republican National Convention.

Here's a couple of photos (I will likely post more next year):

Above, on the convention floor with Gardena City Councilwoman Gwen Duffy.

Above, in Dealey Plaza on Elm Street with the triple underpass in the background.  I am being
shaded by the tree (in front of the former Texas School Book Depository) that deflected the first bullet.

Search This Blog