"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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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Funny Japanese Commercials

Here's a small collection of funny Japanese commercials:

Something of Mine Via Breitbart

Breitbart's Facebook account posted an article with information from Gretawire and James Rosen.  The image they used with it was something that I did.

Well, to be more specific, I didn't do the illustration but I added the words, "People's Republic of Obama."

At least it was swiped for a good cause!

25 Essential Tokyo Souvenirs

Above, an Asakusa souvenir shop.  Many of the items on the list can be purchased here.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Souvenir shopping in Japan seems rather easy for a Japanese giant monster fan. Just go to a toy or gift store that sells kaiju toys and you're done.

But what about non-kaiju related items?  Time Out Tokyo has a list of 25 "essential" Tokyo souvenirs that will make that part of shopping much easier.

They start it with:
No trip to Tokyo would be complete without some souvenir shopping, but scoring the ultimate omiyage can be a real pain sometimes. We've made life easier by picking 25 great Tokyo souvenirs, ranging from the traditional (incense, combs, lucky charms) to the downright quirky (tooth-shaped jewellery, anyone?), and most of them are sold close to the city's main sightseeing spots. Happy shopping, and remember: there's more to souvenirs than Tokyo Banana.
 But make sure you pick up a box of Tokyo Banana cakes anyway. They're really delicious!

To read the list of 25 Tokyo souvenirs, go here.

A Trip of a Lifetime To Kyoto

Above, Kyoto's famous Kinkaku-ji Golden Pavilion.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The U.K. Telegraph has an article by Danielle Demetriou explaining how to tackle Kyoto, Japan's ancient imperial capital.

She writes:
A red-lipped, kimono-clad geisha vanishing around a corner. Riverside cherry trees bursting into cloudlike bloom. Zen gardens with raked sand and haiku-inspiring rock formations. There are perhaps few more evocative city names than “Kyoto”. While Tokyo is all high-speed trains, flashes of neon and skyscrapers, Kyoto moves to an altogether different rhythm. 
A calming antidote to the futuristic capital, Kyoto is synonymous with ancient temples, tea ceremony masters, traditional ryokan inns and centuries-old craftsmanship.

But Kyoto is not just about the past. Despite its well-preserved heritage, it effortlessly embraces the future, with modern buildings, a high concentration of universities and a thriving technology industry (it’s the birthplace of Nintendo).

This is evident to some visitors the moment they step off the bullet train, eagerly look around in search of a geisha – and instead see the ultra-modern glass-and-metal Kyoto Station and a Starbucks across the street.

But as they soon find out – and as the city’s 1.4 million residents are happily aware – Kyoto’s greatest charm is the fact that it looks both forward and backwards with peaceful ease.  
It is worth reminding kaiju fans that Kyoto Station was the final battleground between Gamera and Irys in Gamera 3.

This article is well-worth a read as it gives much information on visiting the city. To read it, go here.

Remember When We Were Able To Talk To Those People?

Above, President Nixon welcomed to Damascus by Syrian President Hafez al-Assad in 1974.

With President Obama anxious to attack Syria, with the chemical weapons attack as the reason, it struck me that, nearly 40 years ago, we had a president welcomed in Syria by President of Syria Hafez al-Assad, the father of the current president, Bashar Hafez al-Assad.

In 1974, President Richard M. Nixon landed in Damascus to meet with Assad.

Those were the days when we had leaders skilled in diplomacy and were able to make conditions possible to talk to those people. We are now "led" by amateurs. We have no credibility or respect in the region today.

Whose side are we on? Neither side is what could be described as desirable, but should we attack, what would be the response from Syria, Iran and others in the region? If we do attack, what is our strategy?

And, what about Israel?

Obama is hell-bent on "going it alone" with an attack. He has practically no allied support (the British Parliament just voted down the Prime Minister's request to go to war).

Now it is coming out that the chemical weapons attack originated from the Syrian rebels.  To read the report on this from Examiner.com, go here.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Tokyo Tower Wax Museum To Close September 1

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

The Japan Daily Press has some sad news for fans of Tokyo Tower's wax museum:
Besides being a landmark of Japan’s capital, Tokyo Tower is also known for being home to a number of wax figures of pop-culture icons. However, the Tokyo Tower Wax Museum will have to bid adieu beginning September 1, as the broadcast tower will go through a major renovation. The museum’s contract will also end with no plans of renewal.
The Tokyo Tower Wax Museum opened in 1970 because of Den Fujita, the same man who brought McDonald’s to Japan. His son Gen Fujita took over in 1988 and has expanded the museum’s collection.
The wax figures may find a new home at another facility, the article says.

To read the full article, go here

Alexandre Desplat To Compose "Godzilla" Score

It has been announced that Zero Dark Thirty composer Alexandre Desplat will be composing the score for Legendary Pictures/Warner Bros. Godzilla.

I am not familiar with any of his other work with the exception of Zero Dark Thirty (the story of the nighttime raid to get Osama bin Laden).  But that was an excellent score.

"The Star of Fate"

The other day, I made some screen captures of the 1953 Adventures of Superman episode, "The Star of Fate" for The Adventures Continue page on Facebook.

I might as well post them here:

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Asakusa's Samba Carnival

Above, Asakusa's Sensoji temple. Photo by Armand Vaquer.
Japanese and Brazilian cultures couldn't be any more different. But that doesn't stop Asakusa, Tokyo from holding their annual samba carnival.

It sounds odd, but they are able to pull it off and people seem to enjoy it.

This year's Asakusa Samba Carnival will be taking place this Saturday, August 31 from 1:00 PM to 6:00 PM.

According to The Japan Times:
Tokyo’s Asakusa neighborhood is one of the capital’s top tourist destinations. Sensoji Temple and the shopping arcade nearby offer visitors a glimpse into traditional Japan. This coming weekend, though, the area will be full of Brazilian energy and the passionate rhythm and music of samba. 
Now in its 32nd year, the Asakusa Samba Carnival, modeled after the Rio de Janeiro original, has grown to become Japan’s biggest samba festival. Originally started in 1981 after Taito Ward invited over the winning group of that year’s Carnival in Rio, the festival today features thousands of dancers — male and female — dressed up in gorgeous costumes.
 For more, go here.

"Dracula" May Be In Legendary's Future

Above, Bela Lugosi in Universal's 1931 "Dracula."

It appears that Legendary Pictures might be coming on board for Universal's Dracula project.

Variety.com is reporting:
The producer of monster movies like “Godzilla” and “Pacific Rim” is wasting no time in choosing which films he wants to make at Universal Pictures, with “Dracula” poised to become the first high-profile project his Legendary Entertainment will co-finance with the studio. The film, directed by Gary Shore and starring Luke Evans and Dominic Cooper, is already in production and slated for release Aug. 8, 2014.  Legendary is in discussions with U executives about coming aboard the project.
For more, go here

Caroline Munro's New Horror Movie

Above, Caroline Munro and Armand at the 2012 Monsterpalooza.
Actress Caroline Munro is making a new horror movie and the producers are inviting people to invest.

According to Classic Horror Campaign:
Sultry Hammer Horror star Caroline Munro has teamed up with London’s Misty Moon Gallery to make a brand new horror film to be premiered at the Misty Moon Gallery in time for Halloween! The Landlady is a portmanteau horror in the tradition of Amicus classics like Dr Terror’s House of Horrors
The Landlady is being shot with a professional cast and crew but needs your help with funding to make sure it’s completed in time for Halloween.
Investors will be entitled to some "perks," according to the article.

For details, go here.

"5 Worst Places To Visit In Japan"

Above, one of the moats at the Imperial Palace.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.
Back in January, RocketNews24 posted an article on the "5 Worst Places To Visit In Japan."

This was based on a survey by the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO). The survey was as of September 2012.

They begin it with this:
When foreigners do find themselves in Japan, travel guidebook in hand, they are inundated with advice regarding must-see places. But the worst part about taking a trip is arriving to one of these “must-see” locations and realizing it isn’t all that great. That’s why we’ve gathered up a list of the top five most disappointing tourist spots in Japan as recommended (unrecommended?) by users on Reddit.
Generally, what may be of interest to one person, may not be of any interest to another. Some have been called "tourist traps" by survey participants. Maybe so. However, I would consider such a survey to be somewhat subjective. It's all in the eye of the beholder.

When I come across such survey or poll results, I usually just furnish the link to it so readers can go there to see for themselves. In this case, I will list the places that made the list with my own comments.

They are:

#1 Roppongi:  I've been in Roppongi a few times and have enjoyed myself there and have gone to a couple of the clubs there. In 2004, I organized a dinner party at the T.G.I. Friday's there for G-Tour and everyone had a great time. Some even went back to Roppongi after the party was over.

#2 Tokyo Disneyland:  From what I've heard, there isn't that much difference between Tokyo's Disneyland and the one in Anaheim, California (and I've been there many times). Why should I go to a place in Japan where I can see and do the same things as in California?  But, as the article mentions, I've heard DisneySea is "awesome." Still, why should I spend most of my day waiting in line for rides when I can do something else?

#3 Imperial Palace:  I've been there twice (the first time was on my own and the second time was with a tour). The article states that there isn't much to see, but I enjoyed it anyway. I think it's worth at least one visit and it is a beautiful place.

#4 Sapporo Clock Tower: The article called it a “a boring rip-off" and is not even worth going inside. The only thing I would do is take an outside picture of it and move on. It was (briefly) featured in Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991).

#5 Tokyo: The article says that some people recommend "avoiding the bustling city" and visit rural areas instead. I've always enjoyed Tokyo. But I would also recommend seeing rural areas as well as other Japanese cities such as Osaka, Kyoto and Fukuoka.

Whether or not to visit these places is all up to the traveler.

To read the full article, go here.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Did ex-Microsoft's Paul Allen Get "Taken" By Fake George Reeves Superman Costume?

Above, an authentic George Reeves Superman costume at the Super Museum in Metropolis, Illinois.

The Seattle Cinerama (one of only three Cinerama-equipped theaters in the U.S.) has a temporary display of costumes purportedly worn Adam West (Batman), Burt Ward (Robin) and George Reeves (Superman).

There's a debate going on among Adventures of Superman fans on the Superman costume.

Most of the fans strongly feel that the Superman costume is a poorly-made replica that ex-Microsoft founder Paul Allen bought for an undisclosed sum. Back in 2005, I went to the Experience Music and Science Fiction Museums in Seattle and viewed the Superman costume. I didn't look at it too closely, so I can't say if the costume at the theater is the same one normally at the museum.

One fan, Mike Clark, has been defending the costume as "authentic" and posted a photo he took of it a few years ago at a San Diego Comic Con. The costume in his photo (below, right) looks too new with no fading. The 'S' on the shirt is off-center and wrong. It looks as though Dean Martin made the 'S' while on a bender. And, in the full photo, there is white or yellow thread sewn into the trunks.

Above, the George Reeves costume (left) and the Paul Allen replica (right).
I've seen an authentic George Reeves Superman costume (once in the possession of producer Whitney Ellsworth) and the one on display in Seattle doesn't even compare to it.

I showed the photo to a friend, who is highly knowledgeable on sewing and has seen other cinematic costumes and concludes this one "doesn't pass muster." In her view, the costume shows "very bad sewing other than semi-straight sewing lines on the legs."

Basically, most of the fans feel that the costume is a "nice" replica, but fails badly as an "authentic" costume.

It appears that Paul Allen got "taken" when he bought this. Even millionaires can be duped.

UPDATE (8/28/13):  The replica costume was allegedly sold at auction in 2003 for $129,800.00.

S.S. Albert S. Burleson In "Beware The Wrecker"

Above, the S.S. Albert S. Burleson from "Beware The Wrecker." 

In the 1953 Adventures of Superman episode, "Beware The Wrecker", there are some stock shots of the Los Angeles Harbor and one of what appears to be a freighter, the S.S. Albert S. Burleson.

Just for the fun of it, I looked up the S.S. Albert S. Burleson and it turned out to be a World War II liberty ship named after a former U.S. Congressman and Postmaster General from Texas, Albert Sidney Burleson (June 7, 1863 – November 24, 1937).

Unfortunately, Burleson was not exactly a "nice guy" while he was Postmaster General.

According to Wikipedia:
In 1913 he was appointed Postmaster General by Woodrow Wilson. To his credit, he initiated the parcel post and air mail services, increasing mail service to rural areas. However, Burleson was one of the most reactionary politicians to have served as Postmaster General, and for that reason (and several others) his term is often seen as one of the worst in the history of the post. Burleson persecuted African-Americans in the mail service, segregating workers and firing Southern black postal workers. At a cabinet meeting on April 11, 1913, just over one month into Wilson's first term his, Burleson "suggested that the new administration segregate the railway mail service," a suggestion Wilson adopted.
Well, back to the ship.

The keel of the S.S. Albert S. Burleson was laid down on September 14, 1943. The ship was launched on October 28, 1943. It was later scrapped in 1971 in Santander, Spain.

I wonder if any of the Adventures of Superman production staff were aware of the ship's unsavory namesake?

Getting A U.S. Passport

Before you can even go to Japan to visit Godzilla's stomping grounds, you
will need a valid passport. In this blog post, I am only addressing Americans.

If you've never had a U.S. Passport, you may ask, How do I get one?

Travel writer Peter Greenberg has an article and video on just how to get yourself a U.S. Passport. All the essential information is provided.

To view the article and video, go here.

Getting To The Godzilla Statues

Above, the Godzilla statue in Hibiya.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The question of getting to the Godzilla statues in Hibiya and at Toho Studios was presented to me today:
I'm going to Japan next month can you give me the addresses to the Godzilla Statue in Tokyo and the Toho Studios statue?
I could have replied, "Get The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan and find out!" But, being the helpful fellow that I am, I replied this way instead (and posting it here so I won't have to re-write it):
Addresses in Tokyo will do you no good. There's really no rhyme or reason to them (not in the western sense). Essentially, you will need maps get to where you want to go and the subway/train station stops. The Godzilla statue is in the Hibiya (next door to Ginza) section of Tokyo at the Hibiya Chanter Square and Toho Studios is out in Setagaya. Basically, from Ginza crossing, you proceed along Harumi Dori north (or west) to Hibya, pass the Yurakucho Mullion Bldg. and go under the train tracks. About a block up from the tracks, make a left turn on the side street and you'll get to Hibiya Chanter Square. For Toho Studios, you will have to take the Odakyu Train from Shinjuku to Setagaya and get off at the Seijo Gakuen-mae station. From there, get a taxi and tell the driver to take you to Toho Studios as it is nestled in a residential area and will be hard to find. The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan has this info. http://armandsrancho.blogspot.com/p/about-monster-movie-fans-guide-to-japan.html
Above, the Wako Dept. Store in Ginza.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.
Above, the Yurakucho Mullion building.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.
For those wondering where/what is Ginza Crossing, it is where the Wako Department Store (featured in Godzilla (1954)) is on one corner and the Mitsukoshi Department Store is on the other.  For those wondering what is the Yurakucho Mullion Building, it was featured in Return of Godzilla (1984) (a.k.a. Godzilla 1985 (1985)).

The guide does include a map to Toho Studios on page 21.

Above, the Godzilla statue at the entrance to Toho Studios.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Top 10 Words Foreigners Use To Describe Japanese People

Above, Tokyo Station.  One of the adjectives used was "punctual" as the trains adhere to strict schedules. Photo by Armand Vaquer.
RocketNews24 has an article on the top ten adjectives foreigners use in describing Japanese people. Fortunately, they're all positive.

The article begins with:
There isn’t a country in the world immune from stereotypes. All people form opinions about places and their inhabitants based on whatever they can glean from the food, tourism, and art of the culture. But not all sweeping generalizations have to be mean and unfounded. The results on a thread asking for the “perfect words to describe Japanese people” were surprisingly positive! 
Here are the most common adjectives that Westerners chose when characterizing the people of Japan.
To see the top ten, go here.

Sarah Palin: "Don't Fund ObamaCare"

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin posted the following at Facebook:

Forced enrollment in Obama's "Unaffordable Care Act" is weeks away. This beast must be stopped -- by not funding it. Today, Todd and I joined with many of our fellow citizens to urge those in the U.S. Senate to not fund Obamacare. 
We The People must continue to make our voices heard and hold those elected to serve this great nation accountable. Those in the Senate and those seeking to serve there must stand strong against this devastating program before it reveals its true face now recognized by both sides of the aisle as the bureaucratic and economic beast that will deny our families, our businesses, and our sick the ability to access health care.

The time for rhetoric and ceremonial votes in Congress is over. The time to take serious action to stop Obamacare is now. Join us in urging Senators -- Don't Fund Obamacare! Just remember -- if you fund it, you own it!

- Sarah Palin

P.S.: Click here to join us in signing this petition: dontfundobamacare.com

Monday, August 26, 2013

New Theory Regarding 1613 Keicho Mission

Above, a statue of Date Masamune at the ruins of Sendai Castle that overlooks the city of Sendai, Japan.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.
In March 2011, a massive earthquake and tsunami hit the northeastern portion of Japan's main island, Honshu.

Four hundred years earlier, a massive earthquake and tsunami struck the same region. At the time, the region was under the control of the feudal First Lord of Sendai, Date Masamune.

Two years later, in 1613, Masamune sent a trade mission to Europe and Mexico, originally thought to boost his own name and reputation.

Now, a Sendai historian has new theory on why Masamune sent the mission.

According to an article in The Mainichi:
SENDAI (Kyodo) -- Naotsugu Hamada, a historian in Sendai, has proposed a new theory regarding the 1613 Keicho mission that Date Masamune sent to Europe and Mexico, arguing that the feudal lord of Sendai may have intended to use the proceeds from trade with Mexico to reconstruct the region that had been hit by an earthquake two years earlier. 
It was previously believed that Date Masamune (1567-1636), who built Sendai Castle and established the foundations of the city, dispatched the mission only to boost his own name and reputation. 
After Sendai and many other areas in the northeastern Japan region of Tohoku were struck by an earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, however, Hamada, 73, came up with the new theory.
It is believed by Hamada that Date Masamune devoted himself to the reconstruction of his domain in Sendai, which included the development of new rice paddies and salt fields.

To read the full article, go here.

Akiko Wakabayashi's Birthday(?)

Above, an autographed photo of Akiko Wakabayashi.  From Armand Vaquer's collection.

Some websites say she was born on December 13, 1939. And others say she was born on August 26, 1941.

Well, regardless of when she was born, here's a salute to actress Akiko Wakabayashi who appeared as Tamiye in King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962), as Princess Salno in Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964) and as Aki in You Only Live Twice (1967).

Kyoto's Heian-Jingu Shrine

Above, the Tahei-Kaku lake and bridge at Heian-Jingu.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.
One of the stops we made during the 2004 G-Tour was in Kyoto's Heian-Jingu Shrine.

Heien-Jingu Shrine was built in 1895 to commemorate the 1,100th anniversary of moving of the capital to the city of Heian.

One of the things I remember most about it was the Tahei-Kaku Lake in the garden area filled with carp and water turtles that our tour group fed along with noisy cicadas all over the place.

The shrine was featured in Lost In Translation (2003).  It is here that Scarlett Johannson walked across a pond on stepping stones.

Happy Traveling Kyoto has an interesting write-up on the Heian-Jingu Shrine along with photographs.

To view it, go here.

Canadian Superman Stamps

by Armand Vaquer

The Canada Post is issuing a run of Superman postage stamps in commemoration of the Man of Steel's 75th anniversary.

The stamps depict the evolution of Superman through the years.

The reason Canada has gotten involved is that Superman co-creator Joseph Shuster was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. His Superman artwork is represented in the stamps.

Other artists' work that are represented include Wayne Boring, Dick Giordano, Neal Adams, Kenneth Rocafort and Jim Lee.

I do have one gripe about these stamps. The work of definitive Silver Age Superman artist, Curt Swan is not represented in this collection. That, to me, is a major omission on the part of the Canadian post office.

At least Swan's work was represented in a stamp in the United States when the U.S. Postal Service issued some DC Comics super-hero stamps in 2006 (left).

To order Superman stamps from Canada Post, go here.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Snoozing Japanese

Above, sleeping in a Tokyo subway. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Many times while taking a subway or commuter train, I've noticed a number of Japanese citizens snoozing on board. I've always wondered if they miss their stops because they were sound asleep.

Japan Today has an article on how Japanese people seem to be able to sleep pretty much anywhere.

They wrote:
TOKYO —On the train to and from work, sitting down, standing up, at work, at school… in public places, people in Japan (including politicians) are nodding off whenever they can. It’s part of the scenery day and night in Tokyo, a “city that never sleeps”. At least, not for a full eight hours. Naps don’t count. 
The Japanese word for nap (“inemuri”) comes from the combination of two words, “iru” (basically, being in a place or being present) and “nemuri” (sleep), and is often translated as “sleeping while present”. 
To read the full article, go here

Japan: Vending Machine Heaven

Above, an assortment of beverages.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

You've probably heard about how there seems to be a vending machine in Japan located just about anywhere.

That is somewhat true. I've seen some in the middle of nowhere next to a country road with no buildings nearby, just an empty lot with a vending machine sitting there like the Monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The Japan Times posted an article on vending machines in Japan in April 2007 that is interesting.

Above, a Kirin beer machine in front of Toho Sound Studio in Setagaya.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.
They wrote, in part:
Fancy some fresh eggs and veggies to go with your can of coffee in the morning? Or how about some sake with a steaming bowl of oden (soy-sauce based stew) for an evening enkai (party)?
Who needs restaurants and supermarkets when you can get all you need from vending machines? 
But wait, there’s more. 
How about renting a DVD and watching it at home with your partner? If that’s your takeaway bag, perhaps you shouldn’t forget to buy a pretty bouquet of flowers for your honey, as well — and a pack of condoms, just in case. 
Yes, all these items and many, many more are available from vending machines — except for your home (and honey), of course. 
It is a vending-machine heaven here in Japan. In cities and the sticks, there are machines everywhere, in front of shops, apartments and inside buildings.  
Above, a cigarette vending machine.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

To read the full article, go here.

Easy Japanese Ryokan Reservations

Above, a ryokan in Sendai, Japan I stayed at in 2006.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

One of the kinds of Japan accommodations I've recommended over the years are the Japanese inns (ryokans).

Generally, they are family-owned and operated and are less expensive than hotels. Plus, a traveler will be able to enjoy a "Japanese experience" during their stay. Most ryokans also have their own restaurant where guests can sign up for a meal without leaving the facility.

A new service specializing in ryokans has been inaugurated for an easy reservation process.

According to the Detroit Free Press:
A network of Japanese guest houses called ryokans can provide a simpler, more authentic experience in Japan than a giant hotel — and they’re cheaper, too. 
With the yen falling in value against the dollar, some ryokans are less than $100 a night, depending on where you stay in the country. 
Now, a new service by the Novi-based Japan Roads tour company makes ryokan reservations easy.
For more information, go here

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Kiyomizudera's Pillars Undergoing Extensive Repairs

Above, Kiyomizudera temple was undergoing repairs during our visit in 2004.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The bases of nine pillars supporting the main hall of Kiyomizudera temple in Kyoto are being replaced due to damage.

News On Japan reported:
Extensive repair work being conducted on pillars supporting Kiyomizudera temple was shown to the press this week.

Repairs are in full swing to replace damaged lower portions of pillars underneath the main hall of the temple in Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto.
The bases are scheduled to be replaced by late September.

We visited Kiyomizudera in August 2004 and repairs were being undertaken at that time as well. The temple commanded a great view of the city of Kyoto.

Besides being a major tourist attraction in Kyoto, Kiyomizudera was threatened by the approach of Godzilla in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993). Godzilla walked off and spared the temple in the movie.

Kiyumizudera and Kyoto are spotlighted in The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan on page 43.

Above, a view of Kyoto from Kiyomizudera.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.
The approach to Kiyomizudera is steep, but the streets leading up to the temple are filled with souvenir and food shops to help take your mind away from the uphill hike.

To read the full article (and there's 20-min. video on the approach and temple), go here.

More on Kiyomizudera's repairs here from The Japan News.

Working On Japanese Booksellers

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

Keeping busy of late has not been a problem. One of the things that keep me occupied is The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

There's always new things to do and promoting keeps it in the public eye. The old saying goes, "Out of sight, out of mind."

I have been in contact with a number of book dealers in Japan. Primarily, in and out of Tokyo. We are discussing the possibility of having them become a dealer for the travel guide. Granted, English-language publications aren't in high demand in Japan, but the Japanese are required to learn some English during their school years and they may want to practice their skills with the travel guide (provided they're kaiju fans in the first place).

As soon as things get formalized with any of the booksellers in Japan, I will post the news here.

UPS and Delta Hit With Massive ObamaCare Costs

The bad news keeps on coming in regards to ObamaCare.

The Marietta Daily Journal reported:

The iceberg of the massive costs of Obamacare is starting to emerge, and two major Atlanta-based companies offer the latest evidence of the looming impact of the misnamed Affordable Care Act. 
Delta Airlines is looking at an Obamacare-triggered increase of nearly $100 million next year in the cost of providing health care to approximately 160,000 active and retired employees and family members enrolled in the company program. United Parcel Service has decided to exclude from the company’s plan 15,000 working spouses of employees, since the spouses are eligible for coverage with their own employers. UPS expects to save about $60 million a year as a result. 
These developments came to light recently with disclosure of a letter from Delta to the Obama administration and a UPS memo to its employees. The information dramatically shows the consequences — intended and unintended — from implementation of the health care law opposed by a majority of Americans in poll after poll. Not only is Obamacare starting to wreak havoc with employer costs but it also is negatively affecting job growth as already evidenced.

This is the great healthcare bill that the Democrats, when they controlled both houses of congress, rammed down everyone's throats without a single Republican vote. They also said that nobody could see what the bill contained until it was passed. Now we know why.

That's why stupid people shouldn't be allowed to vote.

Read more: The Marietta Daily Journal - Obamacare iceberg hitting Delta UPS with huge cost increases

Friday, August 23, 2013

Tokyo's "Book Town"

Shopping in Tokyo is an interesting experience. Finding places are sometimes difficult as there is no rhyme or reason to the street address system in Tokyo. But if you have a good map and are willing to ask directions, you'll find what you're looking for.

Luckily, finding places are made easier as products are somewhat centered in different areas of the city. For example, there's a center for photography equipment in Shinjuku and there's a center for electronics, games and computers in Akihabara.

Another such center is the Kanda-Jinbocho area that is the bookstore mecca of Tokyo. Jinbocho is known as the “book town” of Japan. It is also the home to several publishing houses. There are many shops selling used books, unusual books and even rare Japanese prints. Most carry Japanese-language books, but if one looks hard enough, English-language books can be found. Generally, most of the shops are closed on Sundays.

Also, there are many curio and antique shops in the district.

Kanda-Jinbocho (marked with an "A" in the above map) is located in the Chiyoda-ku ward of Tokyo, not far from the Imperial Palace.

For more on Tokyo's "Book Town," go here.

Mars Attacks Stan Lee’s Comikaze

Source: Stan Lee's Comikaze News

The Topps Company and Stan Lee’s Comikaze teaming up to bring MARS ATTACKS to Comikaze Expo this Nov 1-3! Topps - setting up shop at the Comikaze Expo for the first time - will bring an exclusive MARS ATTACKS trading card featuring Stan Lee himself facing off against their iconic Martian invader!

Limited to just 2500 cards and painted by Joe Jusko, the card entitled "Stan Strikes!" will be given away FREE on a first-come, first-served basis and available ONLY at Comikaze!

Topps will be on hand at this year’s Comikaze to promote the release of Mars Attacks: Invasion, the modern revival of the classic card series and the first all-new, story-based MARS ATTACK card series in more than half a century! A limited edition poster featuring Joe Jusko's stunning painting will also be available for sale at the Topps booth - signed by the artist - while supplies last!

For ticket information, go here.

Tokyo's Skytree A Boon To The Sumida Water Bus Business

Above, a down-river view of the Sumida River in Tokyo.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Back in 2005, I took a water bus ride down the Sumida River in Tokyo. It took me down to the Hama Rikyu Garden pier from Asakusa's water bus pier and back.  It was a pleasant ride (despite the efforts of the water taxi's staff to sell me models of their boats) and well worth it.

Since the building of the Tokyo Skytree, the water bus business has jumped.

According to The Japan Times:
It’s easy to make your way around Tokyo on the subways, buses and trains that cover the capital like a spider web. 
But not many people know about another way to get around — water buses. Also known as water taxis, their popularity has grown thanks to the opening of Tokyo Skytree along the Sumida River. 
While operators say they saw an increase in passengers last business year when the world’s tallest tower opened, they believe water buses have great potential to attract even more tourists in coming years. 
“The opening of Tokyo Skytree has really helped boost the popularity of water buses,” said Koji Sudo, director of the department overseeing the Tokyo Metropolitan Park Association’s water bus business.
Above, a Sumida River view of the Kachidoki Bridge and highrises from the water bus.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.
Besides the Sky Tree, passengers will get great views of the Asahi Beer Hall with its "Golden Flame" sculpture and the Kachidoki Bridge (just before entering Tokyo Bay) that Godzilla toppled over in 1954. The water bus also passes the famous Tsukiji Fish Market.

Also, Tokyo Tower can be seen in the distance from the water bus.

To read the full article, go here.

25 Top Travel Destinations In Japan

Above, Itsukushima Shrine and Miyajima Island near Hiroshima.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

I posted earlier on the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum's ranking as the number one travel
destination in Japan.

RocketNews24 has posted the top 25 travel destinations in Japan from Tripadvisor. Looking them over, I guess I've been to almost half of them, including one that is pictured above.

The post begins with:
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum claimed the top spot for the second consecutive year on Trip Advisor Japan’s list of the most popular sightseeing spots for foreign tourists. It’s a touching memorial that has moved countless visitors to tears and reminds the world to never let such an atrocity happen again, prompting one Trip Advisor user to describe it as “sad, informative and a must-see.” Let’s take a look at the other sightseeing spots on Trip Advisor Japan’s list for 2013.

*****Trip Advisor Japan gathered user comments and evaluations in 20 different languages on their website to determine the rankings.*****
To see the other 24, go here.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Ben Affleck To Face Superman As Batman

Above, Ben Affleck as George Reeves in "Hollywoodland."

First, he was Daredevil.  Then he became George Reeves/Superman.  Now he's going to be Batman.

Fox News is reporting:
Ben Affleck will don Batman's cape and cowl. 
Warner Bros. announced Thursday that the 41-year-old actor-director will star as a new incarnation of the Dark Knight in a film bringing Batman and Superman together. 
The studio said Affleck will star opposite 30-year-old Henry Cavill, who will reprise his role as Superman from "Man of Steel."

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2013/08/22/ben-affleck-will-play-batman-in-new-movie/?fb_action_ids=10151673342822772&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_source=aggregation&fb_aggregation_id=288381481237582#ixzz2ckwUX4Vb

Hiroshima's Peace Museum Is Top Tourist Spot

Above, the Hiroshima Peace Museum.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum has been named the number one tourist attraction in Japan, according to an article in The Japan News.

They wrote:
HIROSHIMA—The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum has been chosen for the second straight year as the most popular site in Japan among foreign tourists, according to U.S. travel website tripadvisor.com. The website, which provides word-of-mouth advice to travelers, is viewed by about 200 million people a month.
 The Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima was briefly shown in one scene in Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991) with Ghidorah flying in the background. Hiroshima is spotlighted in The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan on page 44 for this scene and for the influence/inspiration of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki had in the creation of the Godzilla character.

The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan is listed in tripadvisor.com.

To read the full article, go here.

A little late to the party...

Above, yours truly at Distant Lands in Pasadena.

It appears the RSS feeds on my talk at Distant Lands Travel & Outfitters of two months ago are still making the rounds.

A couple of days ago, a nice fellow posted the news on his website. At least he has a disclaimer stating that notices are "not guaranteed to be current."

If you want to take a peek, go here.

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