Wednesday, 25 November 2009


Have had flu for the last couple of days, passed on to me by my wonderful, giving son - thank you Marcus (but better to get it now than at the end of February when I'm meant to be running the marathon).

Anyway I did go out for a run on Saturday afternoon, this was a long 14km stroll (that's a third of a marathon!), completed in 1h 12m 23s. It got a bit hairy, mentally speaking, about the halfway point as I realised that I had to run the whole way back again, but once I got knuckled down to it it wasn't so bad. I am also indebted to a bloke who was also out running who I fell into step with around the 9km mark as he was running at about the same pace in the same direction and when you have someone to run with, even if you don't know them, it makes life easier.

Anyway I should have been out on Monday and tonight but type-A put a stop to that. The good thing is that it should have given my ankle and knee a bit of a rest, which will only help, so maybe a gentle run on Friday night, see how we feel, then perhaps a 10 or 12k on Sunday.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

On to important matters

Got a bit bogged down last post with politics, history and consecutive posts about the Keystone Cops (and that's three mentions in a row - something must be done about this! Ed.).

So, tonight I feel it is more important to get to the bottom of a much more relevant issue - why are there so few ugly women in Japan?

Now I know what you are thinking, 'there are no ugly women in Japan!', but this is not true. It is true that there aren't very many of them and there are a minuscule number of ugly women over the age of 18, but they do exist. Anyway, I wondered about this for an awfully long time, about as long as I've lived in Japan actually.

When I first came here in the heady days of 1996 with Andy, my mate who I drove mad, we both remarked, after walking around tripping over our tongues for a few days, that the (and please bear in mind that we were young, hormonal and extremely sexually frustrated at the time so the language used was not particularly flattering) 'fit bird:munter ratio' was extremely high in favour of the 'fit birds'. We puzzled long and hard but not could work out why, and since Andy was invalided back to Blighty I have continued to ponder.

Until now, that is (well, April this year actually but I've just got around to writing about it). It is because all the ugly girls are taken away and recycled!

I know this for a fact because not only have I seen the facility where it happens, in the spirit of investigative photojournalism, at no small peril to myself, I have pictures.

Munters ugly bird recycling plant, Itabashi-ku, Tokyo

And it seems to work!

For example Norika Fujiwara is a well known model who advertises, amongst other things, automatic bog seats. Anyway it is a little known fact that she is a Munters alumni. On her 18th birthday in 1989 she was taken away for recycling, because, well, looking like this I think you'll understand why:

Our Norika at her 18th birthday party

However after a lengthy, intensive and probably extremely painful process we have bog seat promoter extraordinaire:

Standing next to the Arakawa soon after her 19th birthday

A vast improvement, I think you'll agree. And it is all done for the benefit of Japan as a whole because, let's face it, no one is going to be interested in an ugly country... Well, Japan is quite an ugly country in places, the bits covered in concrete especially, but no one will be interested in a country full of ugly people at any rate.

Anyway I've done a bit of running and things feel good. Monday night and tonight were both 7.3km-ers along the bank, a 36m 08s on Monday and a 35m 58s tonight. Good going I reckon.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

This week

Two things have been big in the news this week (not counting the Keystone's capture of suspect #1 as reported on Tuesday).

The first big thing was that on Thursday Japan had a big celebration to mark the fact that it was the 20 year anniversary of the Emperor's enthronement. Actually it was 20 years and a bit because the previous chap, the (never prosecuted but let's face it he was a) war criminal Hirohito died on January 7th 1989, I'm not really sure why Akihito's official accession date is 12th November, 10 months and a week after he actually got the job, but there you go, I'm not Japanese so I could never understand (and I forgot to ask the guru).

Anyway the way they celebrated this great event was to have a big party in the Emperor's front garden, with celebs and idols and carefully vetted flag waving proles. Here's a picture of the chap that is in no way related to what happened

Akihito with his panawave headdress slightly slipped backwards

As you can see he is a happy chap and, let's be honest, getting on a bit - not surprising as he was born in 1933 so that makes him 76 years old. The bit that gets me is that they had this big party for him in the evening, so everyone could watch on the telly. Why did people want to watch on the telly? Because it was bloody cold and may well have been pissing it down all evening (we've had a lot of rain this week). Poor bloke (and the missus as well) probably wanted to be at home, feet up with a cup of cocoa, but no, he has to watch people 'doing stuff' for him so he will be amused, sort of like watching the royal variety performance from his balcony in the middle of winter. And the entertainment was probably one thin bloke with a silly haircut hitting a fat bloke with an inflatable hammer (which, don't get me wrong, has it's place, but probably not here).

But I must admit I didn't really watch enough of it to be able to write with any great authority (not that that has ever stopped me), mainly because royal families are an unnecessary anachronism and I never like the British one so I'm sure as eggs not going to give a toss about the Japanese one. (Also he's the Emperor, right, the Emperor of which empire in particular? Maybe he's the Emperor Without Portfolio...)

The other thing about this week is that nice Mr Obama (nMO) has dropped in for a visit - not to our flat, I hasten to add, though he would be welcome to stop by for a cup of tea, but to Japan. I haven't really followed what he's done,but I think he made speeches about being nice to Japan, about Krazy Kim (remember him?) and probably some other stuff as well. I heard he might be going to Hiroshima or Nagasaki as nuclear weapon cuts seem to be high on his agenda. If he does, good on him, he ought to as should Brown, Sarkozy, Putin (or Medvedev), Ahmadinejad and any other world leader/idiot who thinks nuclear weapons are a good idea.

All this important national eventing has meant that the Keystone's fresh from their success in catching a felon (and thereby hitting their target for the 2000-2009 reporting period) have had to double shift and hang around the streets of Tokyo giving people hard stares in case they start plotting. I personally was given a particularly vicious look by a member of his majesty's finest whilst walking through Shibuya station on my way home on Wednesday night. I don't really know what the bobby was doing there as I was heading away from anyway remotely connected with either the EWP or the nMO, but then again I was (and still am for that matter) a foreigner and therefore probably a nutter so deserve a hard stare.

(BTW sorry for all the pauses in the typing tonight but my left contact lens is giving me gyp)

Last but not least I have been hitting the riverbank as usual.Thursday night was a typical 7.3km run in an untypical 35m 45s, which if memory serves is a new personal best. Then this afternoon it was a 12km run down towards the bay, completed in 1h 02m 50s - I was very happy with this as it is the longest for a long time, a good time and i can still walk now, though the knees are stiff and the achillies hurts (I will see a sports physiotherapist next week - we play football together so I will ask for a bit of professional advice).

Tuesday, 10 November 2009


For that is what it is. Not much to report from the land of the rising sun this evening - though the keystone cops have finally caught Tatsuya Ichihashi, the bloke who probably topped... sorry the main suspect in the Linsay Hawker case. The last time they nearly caught him was when 8 of the boys in blue went to his gaff to apprehend him and he did the classic 'look! is that the Goodyear blimp?' and then jumped over the wall. Cue lots of head scratching, confused looks and "he was here a minute ago, Chief Super, look you can see him on the TV news camera" type comments.

So this time they sent every single member of the police force, all 290,000 of them, including the 900 strong Imperial Guard (what a great thing to have on your business card!), to arrest the chap, and luckily they succeeded. Now, with an arrest-to-conviction rate of about 115% I wouldn't think the chap's chances are very good, but as he is a Japanese bloke in a Japanese court on a charge of murdering a foreigner you never know.

Anyway, I've been running - I went on Sunday after my 10k on Saturday and was pleasantly surprised about how good it all felt. I thought I would be shagged out but I actually put in a 35m 58s for the 7.3km route - putting that in perspective it's a personal best the day after a long run. I was quite happy. Also this evening I did another 7.3k, this time in 37m 01s, so a bit slower but still OK (it was quite humid tonight for some reason). Also good news on the pain front as I have discovered that [the J-equivalent of] Deep Heat is extremely good for my dodgy knees. Not for the knees themselves but in softening the tendon that is pulling my kneecaps out of position (which causes the pain). So tonight was as close to a knee-pain-free run as I've had in years. :)

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Quite a quiet week

After all the excitement of the kid's health checks and the rugby last weekend, this week has been on the quiet side. This is good as I needed a week off (whilst still being at work). It's actually a quiet time in Japan at the moment; the politicos don't seem to be doing anything wrong (or really anything for that matter), so it feels like a bit of a return to Silent Shinzo's premiership, and big business doesn't seem to want to get into scandalville - they're probably still trying to work out how much money they've lost over the last18 months (and how much they're going to have to declare to the taxman).

One bit of news from Toyota was that they are quitting F1, this is big news as they have been front runners, podium sitters and world champions several times since they joined in 2002. Oh hang on, that must have been someone else as Toyota, biggest car maker on the planet, were utterly rubbish. But the important thing was that the J-boss of Toyota F1, Tadashi Yamanashi, did the decent thing and blubbed when he announced the news:

This is important as it shows he really meant it when he said he was happy to save the company about a gazillion yen a year. Crying is an important part of corporate Japan and is certainly an expected part of any news conference where bad news is on the menu. Indeed some foreign correspondents on the Japan big business beat have taken to ranking the sincerity of the apology given by the unfortunate suit:

Obviously not a good one that - perhaps it was Shinzo's resignation speech? (Actually probably not as a '4' would be far too high for that).

Anyway I've also been running a bit, Wednesday night was a 7.3km trot down the riverbank towards Akabane - that was a 36m 21s effort so pleased with that. Then this afternoon I did a 10km quickstep up the river towards... not sure what's up there actually, Nerima? Anyway I did find out that the kilometer markers stop as 28 (25 is next to the flat) but some useful person has painted a discreet but noticeable maker on the road for 30km so I knew when to turn. Anyway that was done in 51m 45s so maybe the 52m 10k I did a while back was pretty accurate. But again the left achillies is painful, might have to do something about it.

Monday, 2 November 2009

cold and wet

Today was on the chilly side, but not too bad, and as I wasn't able to go out over the weekend I strapped on the old running shoes and plodded up to the riverbank. As I left the house I noticed it was raining a little but as I got to said riverbank I realised it was also a tad blowy. After about 2km along the top of the bank I realised that it wasn't actually 'a tad blowy', it was a fecking winter storm with wind blowing in from the Urals and throwing rain drops at me at just under the speed of light. It's been a while since the whole side of my face went numb due to the cold. But I finished the run, though I only did a 5.3km instead of the usual 7.3 as I was getting too damn wet. 26m 11s if you're recording these things. Right knee is quite painful now, though, in fact it has been all day - not a good sign

On Saturday, after organising health checks for 230 kids, I went to watch the Bledisloe cup game in Tokyo. Had I been in a position where I had to pay for the ticket I would not have gone (indeed I had not brought a ticket even though people at work had). However when the NZ embassy gives your school a bunch of freebies then what sort of person would I be to decline? (A silly one).

So I went along but, to be honest, it was a bit underwhelming. It wasn't England or Japan, for a start, so I didn't care who won. It was played at the old national stadium near Gaienmae which is big, 45,000 were there, but you feel a bit far away as it's an athletics stadium so you have the tracks around the pitch so everything is distant. Also as I had been working I couldn't meet up with people I knew so I ended up watching by myself (with 45,000 people of course), and whilst I chatted with the Japanese people next to me a bit, it wasn't quite the same.

Anyway NZ won although Aus made a decent fist of the first half. Now both teams are off to Europe. As Japan is hosting the 2019 Rugby World Cup and they want to expand the game and its popularity beforehand I expect I'll be able to watch all these games on TV, or at least on Sky... but no, no coverage and the nz/aus game on Saturday was on an even smaller pay satellite channel - these people have no idea...