"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.)

Friday, February 28, 2014

Godzilla Snickers Ad

The advertising of products featuring Godzilla have started. Snickers has Godzilla playing ping pong and water skiing in this ad:

Residents Explode on Superintendent, Centinela Valley High School Board

Well, I see nothing has changed back in the Centinela Valley Union High School District. Cronyism, greed, malfeasance, corruption, machine politics and you-name-it still permeates the district. The CVUHSD includes Hawthorne, Lennox and Lawndale. From what's happening now, the district could include the City of Bell.

I used to live in the Hawthorne area (I attended Hawthorne High School) and once ran for the CVUSHD School Board in 1977. If I hadn't run, the election would have been cancelled.

According to The Blaze:
A school superintendent in California got an earful earlier this week when parents were given the chance during an emergency meeting to question his supposedly excessive salary. 
“You should all step down and walk away from this! This is ridiculous! This is nuts, this is crazy! I give my wife everything! I do anything I can for my wife! I’m sleeping with her! Who are you sleeping with?” one man shouted during the meeting. 
Jose Fernandez, who oversees the Centinela Valley Union High School District in Lawndale, Calif., reportedly earned $663,000 in 2013, according to KCAL-TV
His district includes only three high schools with a combined total of 6,500 students. 
The district also reportedly floated Fernandez a loan of more than $900,000 at 2 percent interest over 40 years. The loan was granted at a time when the superintendent had already declared bankruptcy.
It appears that the school district didn't learn anything from the corruption scandal of the City of Bell. $663k for a school superintendent?! Plus a 2% loan for $900k?!

Above, the Centinela Valley Union High School District
School Board. Which of these members voted for
Superintendent Fernandez's lavish salary, loan and perks?
Yes, this is like the City of Bell scandal all over again!

To read more, go here

Construction of Tsukiji Fish Market's Replacement Begins

Above, a worker preparing his goods for sale. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

It appears that the Tokyo Metropolitan government has hauled away the toxic soil from the location of the new wholesale fish market site as construction began Friday.

According to Kyodo News:
Construction work of a new fish and greengrocery wholesale market to replace the aging Tsukiji market started Friday in the capital's Toyosu area, with completion expected by March 2016. 
The new market will accommodate the functions of the market at Tsukiji that opened in 1935 and is known as one of the biggest fish markets in the world in terms of transactions. 
Consortiums of major local contractors will build four buildings at the new market for a total of 110.3 billion yen. 
In addition to the construction cost, the Tokyo metropolitan government spent 76.2 billion yen on removing contaminated soil at the site, which formerly housed a plant for gas production.
 This means that if you want to visit the historic Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, you have two more years to do so.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

How The Yomiuri Shimbun Got The "Lucky Dragon No. 5" Scoop

Above, the forward deck of the Lucky Dragon No. 5. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The 60th anniversary of the Lucky Dragon No. 5 incident will be marked next month. Japan is planning a commemoration ceremony in Tokyo.

The Yomiuri Shimbun's The Japan News posted an article on how the story on the irradiation of the tuna fishing trawler was broken.

They wrote:
Sixty years ago, Mitsuyasu Abe, a second-year staff writer at The Yomiuri Shimbun's Yaizu Regional Reporter’s Office, was the first to report on the exposure of the Fukuryu Maru No. 5 to radiation from the hydrogen bomb test at Bikini Atoll. But Abe had to thank his landlady for the tip that led to the world-shaking scoop. 
Abe, who died in 2000 at the age of 70, was at a police station in Shimada, Shizuoka Prefecture, on March 15, 1954, to gather information on the murder of a girl, when his landlady, Misa Kobayashi, called him to say that a tuna fishing boat seemed to have been irradiated in a nuclear test. 
Abe turned to other reporters and said with surprise in his voice, “My father has come from my hometown.” He used this tactic to leave the police station by himself.
To read the full story, go here.

Japan Daily Picks Up Monster Japan Travel Guide Rates Blog

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

The good ol' Japan Daily picked up the blog post on the rates (including postage) for Sweden and France for mail-ordering the print edition of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan (I recently received queries from both countries and researched the costs).

Apparently, The Japan Daily felt it was newsworthy enough pass along through their online newspaper. Maybe they have readers in Sweden and France.

To read The Japan Daily, go here.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Dread Central Uncovers "Godzilla" Trailer Easter Egg

One has to hand it to the sharp eyes over at Dread Central for spotting the Mothra twin fairies (Shobijin) in the new Godzilla trailer that was released yesterday. They referred to it as the trailer's "Easter Egg".

I didn't spot them when I viewed the trailer, but Dread Central provided proof:

To read their article on the "Easter egg", go here.

UPDATE (2/27/14):

A firefighter has come forward saying that it was him and a colleague, not the Mothra fairies:

Cal Worthington Lives!

About a week or so before I left for Japan, I had the television on one night and a commercial for Cal Worthington Ford came on. It was a typical ad for the Long Beach car dealership with Cal Worthington and his "dog Spot."

What's so unusual about this? Cal Worthington died last September at age 92.

I wonder if this was a goof or if it was intentional to keep featuring Cal in the ads? Eerie.

This reminds me of the time months after the JFK assassination that while I was watching a television program, a public service ad came on with President Kennedy. Obviously, that was a goof.

Monster Japan Travel Guide Rates For France and Sweden

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

Since I returned from Japan, I have been struck by some cold virus that two sources (one being my daughter) say is going around. This hit a week ago this evening.

It is weird that I would be in freezing cold and snowy weather in Japan and made it without catching anything (then again, I was on my Vitamin C regimen), but getting back to warm Southern California, I get myself nailed by a virus.

Just going to have to ride it out.

I have self-imposed myself at home and haven't stepped out for the last two days, except to walk the dog. This gave me time to check on postage rates for shipping the print edition of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan to two countries, France and Sweden, that I received queries from.

Both countries came up with $6.04 in first-class postage for a 4.80 oz. large envelope. Add that to the price of the book ($15.00) totals $21.04.

Here's the conversions (from the Universal Currency Converter):

So, if you are from a country outside of the U.S., you can reach me at AMVaquer@aol.com and I would be happy to check on the rates for you.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

"Godzilla - Official Main Trailer" Released

Warner Bros./Legendary Pictures have released the "Godzilla - Official Main Trailer" today:

Looks great to me!

I particularly like the line about the H-bomb, "No tests! They were trying to kill it!"

Lucky Dragon No. 5 Commemoration Program

Above, the stern of the Lucky Dragon No. 5. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

As previously blogged here, the 60th anniversary of the Lucky Dragon No. 5 incident is coming up on March 1. 

It has been announced that this anniversary will be observed in Tokyo with a special commemoration program.

According to an article in the Mainichi Shimbun:
The operator of an exhibition hall housing the remains of a fishing vessel exposed to radiation from a U.S. hydrogen bomb tested at the Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands in 1954 is planning a commemorative gathering on the 60th anniversary of the incident on March 1. 
The Daigo Fukuryu Maru peace association, which manages an exhibition hall housing the ship's remains, is planning lectures and a concert on the anniversary at the Nippon-seinenkan Hotel in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, in what is being called "a memorial gathering."
For more on the commemoration, go here

Monday, February 24, 2014

Harold Ramis Dies At 69

Sad news that comedian, director and writer Harold Ramis passed away at age 69.

My first thought was, "I didn't know he was that old!" Then it occurred to me that he was only nine years older than me. Still, 69 is not that old (I can say that now, eh?) in this day and age.

It is hard to believe that Ghostbusters was released in 1984, thiry years ago. Thirty years?! Yeesh!

Ramis had a hand in many of the comedy classics of the 1970s and 1980s including Animal House, Caddyshack, Stripes, the aforementioned Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day.

It appears that the much-talked-about Ghostbusters III will be proceeding anyway. It was reported that Ramis's role was to be limited and that the focus would be on a new generation of Ghostbusters.

R.I.P., Harold Ramis.

Disappointing North American Tourist Destinations According To Japanese Women

Above, the Grand Canyon made the list. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Back in the 1970s (for those of you old enough to remember), Peggy Lee had a hit song, "Is That All There Is?" Her song would be a great theme/anthem for an article RocketNews24 posted. The article is on America's wonders (natural, man made, you name it) that Japanese women, who visited the place(s), were profoundly disappointed in.

They begin the article with:
Ah, the joys of international travel. You shell out the majority of your paycheck for a ticket and spend sleepless nights counting down the days to your adventure of a lifetime. Then the day of departure finally comes and you board the plane, arriving hours later at your destination and trembling with anticipation. Camera in hand, you journey to the first famous place on your list that you’ve been dreaming about for weeks on end. Finally there, you take a quick look around, eyes widening in surprise, and blurt out, “…that’s it?!”  
Everyone has probably experienced that underwhelming sense of disappointment at some point while traveling. Whether it’s a world-famous monument, a natural wonder, or the coolest little restaurant your coworker swears by, when you actually go and check it out for yourself, you fail to see what all the hype is about. 
The folks behind Japanese website My Navi Woman were curious to find out what top North American destinations chronically failed to live up to their readers’ expectations, so they created a web survey geared towards working women aged 22 through 34, and received a total of 276 responses. We now present the results of that survey to you, appropriately titled “The world’s most disappointing tourist locations according to Japanese women, North American edition.”
I can think of one place that I thought was a disappointment: Grand Canyon Caverns off of Historic Route 66 in Arizona. I disagree with the Japanese ladies who were disappointed with the Grand Canyon.

To read the full article, go here.

Japan Needs To Prepare For Heavy Snowfalls

Above, snow covers the Keisei Line tracks in Chiba Prefecture February 9. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

My recent trip to Japan could not have been better timed for worse weather. When I arrived at Narita International Airport, the first hint that problems may be ahead came at landing. While landing, I noticed a light dusting of snow. I've seen this before (last year at Cleveland Airport) wasn't concerned about it. Little did I know that I would be stuck in a train car for 16 hours.

In Tokyo (or anywhere else), I did not see a single snow plow. I know Tokyo gets an occasional snow storm now and then, I would have thought that they would already have snow plows and other equipment available to clear the streets and train tracks. Apparently not.

I only saw one vehicle in Tokyo with chains, and that was a tour bus.

My impression of Japan, during the heavy snowstorms, was that they were caught flatfooted and unprepared. I am not the only one of this opinion.

The Japan Times has posted an editorial on Japan's snow preparedness, or rather, the lack of adequate preparation.

They wrote, in part:
Recent heavy snowfalls from the Kanto-Koshin region to Hokkaido revealed the vulnerability of areas that up to now have not experienced such heavy snowstorms. Overall snowfall across the nation has been on the decline, but severe snowstorms are occasionally striking areas that normally do not get much snow. Both the public and private sectors, even in relatively warm areas, need to take precautions against heavy snow.
I hate to say it, but..."Duh!"

The experience of this month should tell the "powers that be" in Tokyo that while snowfall has been on the decline, a couple of storms did strike the country and caused major problems. Maybe the experience of this month's storms will wake them up. They need to prepare for what can come, not to bet that it won't.

To read the full editorial, go here.

Starbucks Promoting Temp Workers To Full-Time Positions

Above, a Starbucks in Ginza. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Starbucks in Japan is almost everywhere (like McDonalds) and they've announced a move to promote temp workers into full-time positions.

RocketNews24 reported:
With just over 1,000 stores covering practically every prefecture, Starbucks is a coffee powerhouse in Japan. Since opening its first store in Tokyo in 1996, the company has managed to adapt its business model to suit Japanese tastes with seasonal flavors, expanded (alcoholic) menu options and utilizing Japan’s unique architecture. Last week, Starbucks went one step further in its Japanese expansion plan by announcing that it would promote 800 temp workers to full-time positions, which netizens applauded as a move to create pressure on the Japanese market to provide better benefits to workers. 
Starbucks, which currently has about 1,800 full-time employees, revealed their plan last week to promote 800 temp workers on April 1 during an interview with TV Tokyo.
Just hope it isn't an April Fool's joke.

To read more, go here.

Tokyo Mega Tourist Complex Announced

Above, the current Tsukiji Fish Market in Chuo Ward. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Plans for a new Tokyo mega tourist complex near to where the Tsukiji Fish Market is to be relocated have been announced.

According to The Japan News:
The Tokyo metropolitan government has announced plans for a mega-tourist complex in Tokyo’s Toyosu district, the relocation site for the Tsukiji wholesale market currently housed in Chuo Ward, Tokyo. 
Scheduled for completion in fiscal 2015, the project will include a restaurant area where visitors can enjoy fresh local ingredients and a bath facility that is expected to be one of the biggest in Tokyo.
To read more, go here

Japan Daily Picks Up Asakusa View Hotel Skytree Offer Blog Post

The Japan Daily has picked up my blog post on the offer that Asakusa View Hotel is making (now through March).

The offer is a pass to the Skytree obsevation deck while staying at the hotel in Asakusa, which is just across the Sumida River from the Skytree.

To see The Japan Daily, go here.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Stay At Asakusa View Hotel and A Skytree Visit Is On Them!

Above, a view of the Skytree from Asakusa. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

A package offer from the Asakusa View Hotel was posted in the Japan Times (Feb. 13) while I was still in Japan.

Since the offer is good through March, you may want to consider it if you are planning to visit Japan between now and then.

The article with the offer stated:
The Asakusa View Hotel is offering an accommodation package that comes with a ticket for the Tokyo Skytree observation deck. 
The hotel, Tokyo Skytree’s “official friendship hotel,” is in the Asakusa area, across the Sumida River from where Tokyo Skytree stands in Sumida Ward. 
Available through March, the package includes a ticket for admission to the 350-meter-high observation deck and a Tokyo Skytree-shaped bottle of water per person. Guests can use the ticket on the day of their hotel stay.
I visited the Skytree during my vacation, but didn't go up to the observation deck (not enough time as I had a lunch appointment). It appears that the crowds have died down and while there is a lot of people visiting the Skytree, it looks like getting a ticket to the observation deck is a lot easier and can be bought the same day.

This offer by the Asakusa View Hotel may be another incentive for someone to head off for Japan. The package price ranges from ¥14,000 to ¥19,000 per person, including tax and a service charge.

To read the full article, go here.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Bellés Interviews: Behind The Scenes At Toho Studios

Above, Jonathan Bellés setting up his equipment. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

During my recent trip to Japan, I joined producer/director Jonathan Bellés at Toho Studios for his first interviews in Japan for his documentary, Godzilla and Hiroshima: The Rise of the Kaiju Eiga.

Above, Jessica Claros reviewing her notes. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

At Toho, we were joined by interpreters Jessica Claros and David Munoz as well as Yoshikazu Ishii. For the interviews, we were permitted to use a meeting room that overlooks the main entrance to Toho Studios. From the meeting room's window, we could see the Godzilla statue and Seven Samurai mural.

Above, interviewees Yoshikazu Ishii (center) and Eiichi Asada (right) arrive at Toho. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

It was a bright and cheery room with couches, tables, a big-screen television set and carpeting.

Above, Eiichi Asada being interviewed. David Munoz stands in the background. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

We arrived at the studio an hour early so Jonathan Bellés could set up his equipment, which included lights, reflectors and several stands.

Above, Eiichi Asada during his interview. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The first to be interviewed was special effects director Eiichi Asada. While Jonathan Bellés manned the camera, Jessica Claros questioned the interviewees from notes provided by Bellés. Munoz assisted whenever someone got stuck on a phrase or needed more clarification. Both Japan-based interpreters specialize in Japanese-Spanish language interpreting.

Above, Yoshikazu Ishii as he was interviewed. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Following Asada's interview, Bellés then interviewed Yoshikazu Ishii on his role as assistant (under Asada) special effects director of Godzilla Final Wars.

When each interview was completed, group photos were taken. The first one (below), was with Eiichi Asada.

Above, from left are David Munoz, Jonathan Bellés, Asada, Jessica Claros and Yoshikazu Ishii. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

After the interview with Yoshikazu Ishii, another group shot was taken, this time with yours truly in it.

I did manage to break away and grab a quick bite to eat (curry and rice) at the studio cafeteria and buy a few souvenirs (a t-shirt for my daughter Amber and a hat and jacket for me).

Above, Jessica Claros and Jonathan Bellés. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

It was interesting to observe how Jonathan Bellés works and get past the language barrier. The two interpreters did a fine job during the interviews.

The final shot (below), courtesy of Jonathan Bellés and David Munoz, was taken during camera set-up for Yoshikazu Ishii's interview.

Above, from left, yours truly, Yoshikazu Ishii, Jessica Claros and Jonathan Bellés. Photo by David Munoz.

Bellés interviewed several others at different locations following my departure from Japan. They include Akira Takarada, Masaaki Tezuka, Koichi Kawakita, Kenpachiro Satsuma, Teruyoshi Nakano and others.

Tokyo Cruise's "Hotaluna" Cruise Boat

Above, the "Hotaluna" moored at the Tokyo Cruise terminal at Asakusa. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Two years ago, I posted a blog article on taking a cruise on the Sumida River in Tokyo. I took a cruise down the Sumida back in 2005, and it was very enjoyable (although the crew tries their best to sell passengers model toys of their cruise boats). It was aboard one of the more conventional boats that Tokyo Cruise Ship Co. has.

Above, the Tokyo Cruise terminal. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

During my recent trip to Japan, I made it a point to photograph the Tokyo Cruise terminal, which is located on the Asakusa side of the Sumida.

As luck would have it, moored at the terminal was a unique tour boat of the "fleet" of Sumida tour boats. Most of the tour boats are conventional, but this one can be described as "futuristic." It is the "Hotaluna." To see the interior of the boat (the text is in Japanese), go here.

Above, the "Hotaluna." Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Tourists can sail on the "Hotaluna" down the Sumida River to Odaiba and back. Great views along the river include the Skytree, Asahi Beer Hall, the Kachidoki Bridge (featured in Godzilla), Tokyo Tower, Tsukiji Fish Market, the Rainbow Bridge and Odaiba.

For reservations, go here. (Unfortunately, it is in Japanese.)

If Godzilla Wanted Coffee or Tea In Tokyo...

If Godzilla wanted to take a coffee or tea break while in Tokyo, cups are ready and waiting:

Above, coffee or tea cup balconies in Kitchen Town (Kappabashi), Tokyo. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Do You Prefer To be Treated Like A King or Livestock By An Airline?

Above, an All Nippon Airways jet being readied at Narita Airport. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

A friend read my mini-review of my recent flight experience aboard United Airlines' Boeing 787 Dreamliner and had this to say in response:
Armand, nothing beats Singapore Airlines, All Nippon Airlines, JAL, Asiana Airlines, and some others in Asia still with the "Customer is King" attitude that is long since gone from US-flag carriers and one is treated like livestock, and not much more. I really mean that AND from multiple direct, comparative experience across the Pacific on more times than I can count.
I have to agree. My experience aboard several flights with Korean Air and two with Singapore Airlines were vastly different from my United experience. The flight attendants of Korean Air and Singapore Airlines "bend over backwards" to make all passengers comfortable, well-fed (with good food, not swill) and with plenty to drink. My most recent trip to Japan before this month's trip was in December 2010 with Korean Air. Nothing had changed from their superb service of three years prior (April 2007). I would not hesitate to fly with Korean Air again.

It will be likely that my next trip to Japan will be either aboard All Nippon Airlines (since I am an ANA Mileage Club member) or with one of the other Asian airlines. I think I've had it with American carriers for international flights. Very disappointing.

I'd rather be "treated like a king" instead of like livestock.

New Godzilla Poster Revealed

Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures have unveiled a new poster for the upcoming (May 16) Godzilla.

Thank goodness that Godzilla looks like Godzilla this time instead of a mutated iguana!

Many Japanese Wear Surgical Masks For Reasons Other Than For Hygiene

Above, some mask-wearing Japanese in Chiba Prefecture. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

When I was in Japan last week, I noticed quite a number of Japanese people wearing surgical-type masks. I've seen this before and I figured that they must be ill with a bug and don't wish to pass it on to other people. After all, it is the cold and flu season (and Japan is currently
experiencing a flu epidemic).

But, according to an article in RocketNews24, not all Japanese are wearing masks for hygienic reasons.

They wrote:
Like kimono and T-shirts with English writing (sometimes vulgar, sometimes comical, always unintelligible), the number of people you’ll see in Japan wearing surgical masks is pretty surprising. Sure, Japan is a hard working society, and the spread of productivity-sapping sickness is always a concern at schools and workplaces, but that doesn’t seem like reason enough for the proliferation of facial coverings that sometimes has Tokyo offices looking more like an operating room. 
Health concerns are only part of the equation, though, as recent studies have revealed multiple reasons people in Japan wear masks that have nothing to do with hygiene.

So why are many Japanese wearing masks for reasons other than hygiene? Go here and find out!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Japan Daily Picks Up Yachiyodai Station Blog Post

The Japan Daily picked up my post on the location of the Yachiyodai Station in Chiba Prefecture where I spent a nice chunk of my vacation in Japan.

To view The Japan Daily, go here.

Where The Hell Is Yachiyodai Station?

Above, Yachiyodai Station in Chiba Prefecture. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

For about 16 hours, I was stuck in a Keisei Line train car at the Yachiyodai Station in Chiba Prefecture due to snow. The station is situated in-between Narita International Airport and Tokyo.

When I left Japan last Saturday, (out of curiosity) I timed how long it would take to reach Yachiyodai Station from Ueno Station in Tokyo.

The train left Ueno Station at 10:55 a.m. and we reached Yachiyodai at 11:35 a.m. It is interesting that we were stuck only 40 minutes outside of Tokyo (including all stops along the route up to that point).

I checked with Google Maps and here's (below) where Yachiyodai Station is located (marked with "A"). It doesn't look that far from Tokyo. Trouble is, besides the snow stopping train service, there were no buses or taxis available to take anyone into Tokyo (the fare probably would have been expensive anyway). A few people, including me, considered doing that.

One thing Keisei Line people did for us, they gave us a special ticket that entitled the bearer to free transport into Tokyo. Other train lines honored it, including the Metropolitan subway lines. This came in handy as it took me another four hours (after leaving Yachiyodai Station) to finally reach my hotel.

This was definitely a case of "so close, but yet so far."

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Japan Sets Record High In Foreign Visitors During January

Above, Nakamise Street and Sensoji Temple in Asakusa, Tokyo. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Japan set a new record in January for the number of foreign visitors to the country.

According to News On Japan:
A record number of international travelers visited Japan last month, thanks to a sharp increase in visitors from Asian countries. 
The Japan National Tourism Organization estimates 943,900 foreign tourists and businesspeople visited Japan in January. That's up more than 41 percent from the same month of last year. 
With more favorable exchange rates between the Japanese yen and foreign currencies and that Japan is bending over backwards in enticing visitors to the country, it is no surprise that their tourism numbers are up.

It will be interesting to see the February visitor numbers as I did my part in visiting Japan this month.

To read more, go here.

"The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan" Facebook Page

A Facebook page for The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan has been set up.

I've been meaning to create a page for the travel guide, but just never got around to setting one up. Finally, tonight I created it.

Once I did, in no time it had over 30 likes (or members).

To check it out and join, go here.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Why U.S. Flyers Are World's Most Uncomfortable

Above, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner I flew to Japan in. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Smartertravel.com's Today In Travel has an interesting article on why Americans tend to whine more often and loudly than travelers of other countries when the subject is comfort aboard airliners.

They start it with:
You may have noticed: Americans seem to kvetch more loudly and more often than travelers from other countries. Are we just a bunch of spoiled whiners? 
We may indeed be spoiled whiners, but we do have at least one compelling reason to be unhappy with the travel experience: We're flying on fuller planes.
During my recent trip to Japan, I flew with United Airlines. The planes (Boeing 787 Dreamliners) were full during my flights to and from Japan. Actually, I don't recall ever being on a plane in previous trips to Japan that weren't full.

They also note:
But for flyers, high load factors translate directly into discomfort. That's especially true in coach, where legroom has decreased by 10 percent over the past two decades.
This is interesting, considering that I previously posted that I had no complaints about the legroom in the Economy section aboard the Dreamliner. I had plenty of room and was able to stretch out my legs. The only complaint I had on this trip was the food.

I may have had plenty of room for my legs, but there was one thing I did notice and it was a little annoying. On both flights, I sat in the aisle seat and kept getting bumped by people walking down the aisle to go to the restroom or being bumped by flight attendants' food and drink carts. Could it be that the aisles are more narrow?

To read the full article, go here

Toho Updates Website Portal For Godzilla's 60th Anniversary

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

Another thing to remind me of my age.

The Asahi Shimbun has reported that the official portal website of Toho Co., Ltd. has been updated to celebrate Godzilla's 60th anniversary.

They wrote:
To celebrate the 60th anniversary of “Godzilla,” Toho Co. has updated its official portal site and is offering brief introductions of all 28 titles of the monster movie series for fans. 
The anniversary will be celebrated with the releases of the new Hollywood remake of the series and the first digitally remastered version of the original “Godzilla,” which first hit theaters in 1954. 
In addition, the website provides information for Godzilla and his rival “kaiju” monsters, with large photos, and features the weapons used in each film. 
There is also a special section titled “Ore to Godzilla” (me and Godzilla), where interviews with Godzilla fans will be updated. The first guest will be revealed soon.
Unfortunately, it is all in Japanese.

Additionally, Rialto Pictures is releasing the 1954 original Godzilla to selected theaters in U.S. cities starting in New York in April to celebrate the Big Guy's anniversary. This is the same restored version that Rialto released ten years ago for Godzilla's 50th anniversary.

To read the Asahi Shimbun article, go here.

60th Anniversary of Lucky Dragon No. 5 Incident

Above, the bow of the Lucky Dragon No. 5. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Besides Godzilla's 60th anniversary, 2014 marks another 60th anniversary: the Lucky Dragon No. 5 incident.

According to The Japan Times:
Sixty years ago, on March 1, 1954, a Japanese fishing boat named Lucky Dragon No. 5 was doused by radioactive fallout from a U.S. hydrogen-bomb test, codenamed Castle Bravo, on Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Although the bomb was over 1,000 times more powerful than the one dropped on Hiroshima in August 1945, Bravo was just one of 67 nuclear tests the U.S. conducted in that part of the North Pacific between 1946-58, rendering some atolls uninhabitable. 
On the morning of the test, the wind blew radioactive fallout onto unlucky islanders, American servicemen and that Japanese boat fishing for tuna 160 km east of the blast site, some 32 km outside the exclusion zone. The crew reported that sandy ash fell onto the vessel for a few hours, and soon after they began to suffer nausea. By the time they returned to their home port of Yaizu in Shizuoka Prefecture on March 14, they had serious symptoms of radiation sickness and were hospitalized in Tokyo. The radio operator died six months later with American doctors insisting fallout was not the cause — a finding that Japanese doctors disputed.

The Lucky Dragon No. 5 has been restored and is now on display at Dream Island Park in Tokyo. Admission to the exhibit is free. I went there last week with Jonathan Bellés and the exhibit was closed (they close at 4:00 PM). We noticed that they had some Godzilla figures on display at their souvenir stand when we peeked through the window of the building housing the boat.

Above, the port side of the Lucky Dragon No. 5. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

To read the full article, go here.

Japan Wi-Fi Locator Started

Japan is making progress in making things easier for foreign tourists. The latest is a Wi-Fi locating system that was started last Friday.

According to JapanToday:
TOKYO —Nippon Telegraph and Telephone East Corporation (NTT East) and NAVITIME Japan, a route search and navigation content service provider, on Friday began offering Free Wi-Fi Spot Search as a convenient offline feature in the NAVITIME for Japan Travel English-language app for tourists visiting Japan. 
Coinciding with the launch, NTT East will offer two-week usage of its FREE Wi-Fi service, as well as detailed information about hotspots where the service can be used. 
NAVITIME for Japan Travel provides visitors with multi-modal navigation solutions in English, including searches for tourism spots and navigation via mass transit systems. According to a fiscal 2011 survey conducted by the Japan Tourism Agency, the need for free public wireless LAN environments is a primary concern of international tourists visiting Japan.
To read more, go here.

While we're on the subject of Wi-Fi in Japan, Japan Travel has a handy reference page to find free Wi-Fi service in Japan. The page includes municipalities, hotels, convenience stores and elsewhere.

To access the page, go here.

Meeting The Japan Travel Team

Above, the February 10 lunch with the Japan Travel Team.

A photo article of my get-acquainted luncheon meeting with the Japan Travel Team at Roppongi Hills has been posted at Japan Travel's blog.

It features the above photo of the group as well as some views of Tokyo.

To view it, go here.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Japan Daily Picks Up Four Blog Articles

The Japan Daily picked up several blog articles.

They picked up the article I posted here and at Monster Island News on Yokosuka's Godzilla Slide, the ebook edition of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan (poor Ai got her head cut off) and the February 10th early morning earthquake.

To view The Japan Daily, go here.

JapanTravel Version of "Yokosuka's Godzilla Slide" Article

Above, the Godzilla Slide at Kurihama Flower World. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

A slightly different and expanded version of my article with other features on Yokosuka's Godzilla Slide has been posted at Japan Travel.

To view it, go here.

Looking Back At 60 Years of Godzilla

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

The website, Digital Trends, takes a look back at the history of Godzilla.

The article starts from the beginning when Godzilla became a stand-in for the atomic bomb, his morphing into a kid-friendly super-hero and to his return to his roots as an atomic force of nature. The article also takes a look at the 1998 abomination and the Legendary Pictures/Warner Bros. re-boot.

The article begins with:
The character of Godzilla has been with us, stomping through the edges of pop culture for six decades. It has endured countless reboots, re-imaginings, and even an American remake that is generally reviled and ignored. For 60 years Godzilla has been with us, and on May 16, 2014 the original “kaiju” returns to the big screen. In honor of that, we look back at more than half a century of the character’s history.
Read more: http://www.digitaltrends.com/gaming/force-nature-man-rubber-suit-back-look-back-60-years-godzilla-king-monsters/#ixzz2td1WxIMa

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