Monday, 9 August 2004

Am now in holiday mode so there will be precious little structure to the ramblings for this week and, quite possibly, next.

This week, or perhaps next week dates are a little hazy, is Obon. For those who don't know, obon is the festival of the dead, as far as I can tell, where you average Japanese salaryman person decamps back to the family dwelling in the country side, with wife and kids in tow to say hello to the folks and pay homage to the ancestors by visiting graves and, nice touch I think, leaving little offerings of sake for the deceased but obviously thirsty grandparental to sup on. Makes more sense than flowers, if you ask me, and seems to prove that the Japanese have the right idea towards deceased relaties, i.e. they could do with a drink. As we don't have any deceased realtives in Japan, that means the guru and I get to stay in Tokyo and do nothing (and I get to keep the sake for myself, which seems an even better outcome than giving it to blocks of stone containing ashes of people I have never met).

On top of this, not only are we not worried about long gone parts of the family, as mentioned yesterday we are far more interested in new additions. So again a quick congratualtions to Julian and Katharine for producing the next generation of the family. Well done, jolly good etc etc.

However what with it being the obon hols, my brain has gone to sleep, probably on account of the heat and the humidity, so my usual prose and eloquent discourse is replaced with the following:

Football - Japan won the Asian cup in China against China and the Chinese weren't very happy. They booed the anthem and rioted after the final. The China coach, a dutch chap, refused to accept his losers medal as he said the Japan team cheated. Blah blah blah, if he was really pissed off he would have complained about the referee, who made the decisions and approved the goals, rather than the team, who played to the whistle (though Japan's second goal was a handball worthy of Maradonna)

Fallout - Another day another problem for the Japanese nuclear industry. Last year Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) had to close all 17 of reactors after investigators looked up the word 'maintenance' in the TEPCO manual and found the explanation 'sit back, have a cup of coffee, falsify reports and hope no one asks you about it'. Now it would seem a reactor in Kansai (Osaka) has had to let off a bit of steam after overheating or something. Unfortunately 4 or 5 workers got in the way and were boiled on the spot, poor chaps. This is a breaking story, so more bulletins if I ever remember.

Jenkins - oh for heaven's sake is this still going on? Allegedly so, though now he is back on Japanese soil and in hospital it has taken a bit of a back seat. Anyway he is, apparently, going to plea bargain with the US. I don't really know what this means, but I think it is where he says 'I'm really sorry' and the US says 'Oh right, that's ok then' and everyone goes home happy. I might be wrong about that, but I don't care.

Onsens - Even more have been discovered doing, as it were, the dirty. This time in Ikaho, Gunma, where rather than put bath salts in to make the water smell nice, the dodgy owners couldn't even be bothered to do that. They, again allegedly, boiled up bog standard tap water and then added it to the bath and claimed it was the good for you, flatulence inducing real mccoy. Que outrage in Gunma and, no doubt, Japan as a whole as the whole edifice of Japanese bath times crumbles in the face of a scandal that, try though I am sure they do, they can't blame any foreigners for at all.

More Fallout - This week was, of course, the 59th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (in fact Nagasaki was today). Having been to both peace parks I can say they are places of tranquility and reflection. Blair, Bush and any other leader with an itchy nuclear trigger finger would do well to visit those cities in August.

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