Today, we have had to suffer through a clot of nonsense about a clothing designer's cute idea:
Fearing Crime, Japanese Wear the Hiding Place
by Martin Fackler - TOKYO, Oct. 19 - On a narrow Tokyo street, near a beef bowl restaurant and a pachinko parlor, Aya Tsukioka demonstrated new clothing designs that she hopes will ease Japan's growing fears of crime.
Deftly, Ms. Tsukioka, a 29-year-old experimental fashion designer, lifted a flap on her skirt to reveal a large sheet of cloth printed in bright red with a soft drink logo partly visible. By holding the sheet open and stepping to the side of the road, she showed how a woman walking alone could elude pursuers by disguising herself as a vending machine...
On the 19th we had an up close and personal interview with Prince "Hello There My Concubine!":
A Font of Commentary Amid Japan's Taciturn Royals
by Norimitsu Onishi -TOKYO - NEVER tight-lipped about his recurring battle with cancer, he still surprised many Japanese by admitting that he was an alcoholic and checking himself into rehab over the summer. Family problems, he explained.
The inevitable strain of a quarter-century marriage, a cousin's cryptic comments, existential questions about the nature of family and life itself, all of this, he said openly, had contributed to his heavier-than-usual drinking.
The family in question is none other than Japan's imperial family, and the recovering patient is Prince Tomohito of Mikasa, a first cousin of Emperor Akihito. The family's other members are only seen, if they are seen at all, waving at some official event. But this prince has never shied away from offering his personal opinions on everything from preserving the throne's unbroken male line — even, he wrote mischievously two years ago, by reviving the concubine system — to the private burdens of royalty.
"It's not only the past one or two years," the prince said of the stress behind his alcoholism. "As long as I can remember, the imperial family's been like one big ball of stress."
"Yessir, livin' in my palace, gettin' waited on hand and foot by an army of attendants, the stress...oh Laudy, the stress of it all... "
This is not a puff piece; this is journalistic...well..the flyers surreptitiously slipped into my mailbox label it "the VIP course."
However fawning, the interview is prize-winning stuff compared to this off-putting online offering:
Memo From Tokyo: Japan Wrings Its Hands Over Sumo's Latest Woesl
by Norimitsu Onishi - TOKYO, Oct. 18 — The problems swirling through Japan's ancient sport of sumo recently would seem to be random, unconnected events.
A coach was expelled from the sumo association this month for inflicting fatal injuries on a 17-year-old apprentice in a hazing incident and may face criminal charges. One of the two grand champions, Asashoryu, has been suspended for claiming an injury and then being filmed playing soccer in his native Mongolia. He is also suspected of fixing matches with other wrestlers, including the other grand champion, also Mongolian.
When things seemingly could not get any worse, a woman tried to climb up into the elevated sumo ring last month during a match, a no-go place for women, who are considered impure in sumo tradition. She broke free from a female security guard in the audience but was pulled down by a sumo wrestler who prevented her from entering the sacred ring and, in the eyes of traditionalists, defiling it...
Bowels of Christ, Onishi-san! How can the cleaning up the spiritual pollution of a woman's presence in the ring be equated with the unsolved and thus unpunished beating death of a child?
And right before that we had a story about...well, does anyone understand what Onishi's point was?
Death Reveals Harsh Side of a Model in Japan
by Norimitsu Onishi - KITAKYUSHU, Japan - In a thin notebook discovered along with a man's partly mummified corpse this summer was a detailed account of his last days, recording his hunger pangs, his drop in weight and, above all, his dream of eating a rice ball, a snack sold for about $1 in convenience stores across the country...
Trust me, if a person's corpse is lying around during a Japanese summer, one of the things is it not is "partly mummified." Try "mostly eaten," maybe.
What is going on with these two? Do they not understand they are reporting from a real country, with real problems and that these problems have global consequences? Or, if they are being pressured to present "off-the-beaten-track" stories, that Japan has developed some really interesting ways of coping with issues other countries are just coming to grips with?
Oddball trivialities are Japan Probe's and Pink Tentacle's idiom--and they are fulfilling the world's daily requirements quite well, thank you very much.
Or has the Tokyo posting become all just one big giggle, punctuated only by once-a-year solemn visits to Hiroshima/Nagasaki and back-of-the-hand-to-the-forehead "Oh My" descriptions of cetacean carnage at Taiji?
(For the record, what happens at Taiji is an obscenity. Coastal, even pelagic whaling is fine, if strictly managed. Dolphin and porpoise slaughter, however, is pointless. Nobody can safely eat dolphin.)
W. David Marx offers his two yen's worth over at Néojaponisme.
Later - I am fairly certain that Onishi-san had a rather serious point in mind when he began writing about the starvation notebook. Unfortunately, he does not ever express the point, whatever it was, leaving the reader annoyed rather than moved.