Japanese jimmy riddle

Although the Japanese love of all things cute is nothing new, there’s surely a limit to what can get the almost compulsory and cloyingly cuddly conversion. And whilst something as unlikely as the Windows operating system has successfully had treatment, one would think that burly builders would pose a bigger problem – despite their rather fetching fashion.

japanese builder

Yet that doesn’t appear to be the case at all, as not only are builders considered as cute as a button, but they are also viewed that way when endearingly emptying the contents of their bladder.

cute Japanese figure

(click image for wider-angled weeing workman)

iPod preservation

Japan may well be one of the biggest importers of timber, diligently decimating the world’s remaining rainforests, but in this more ecologically aware era, it’s nice to know that efforts are being made to at least use the wood more sensibly – these rather unusual iPod cases produced by Japanese company Asuka Koubou attempting to savvily save the environment by using up the scraps.

Cleverly combining ecological concern and cool.

wood ipod case japan

Or at least the former, as covering the iPod’s sleek contours with a piece of wood makes it look not too dissimilar to grandma’s old transistor radio – albeit a bit smaller.

wood ipod cover japan

Although that said, they are apparently very popular, so it just goes to show how much I know.

Tokyo transgression

“I spent the money at video game arcades. I murdered them so I could steal some money.”

Hiroshi Shimura’s confession to the police after being arrested for withdrawing money from the account of a man found dead in Tokyo last month.

Third-year University student Shimura is now being grilled further about the incident, which resulted in 61-year-old Shinichiro Nomoto and his 86-year-old mother being murdered at their Tokyo home in late January. An investigating officer reiterating the senselessness of the crime by confirming that the 21-year-old student had frequented game arcades for several years; however how much Shimura-san’s Dance Dance Revolution honed dexterity will benefit him in the prison showers,

dance dance revolution japan

remains to be seen.

Japan Unwrapped #2: Cosplay crotch

Dear Tokyo Times,

What’s the most unpleasant thing you’ve ever seen in Japan, scary, sickening or otherwise?

Paul, Bury.

During my time in Japan, Paul, there have been many things that have stuck in the mind, both good and bad, but perhaps none with the same burned into the back of the brain whether you like it or not intensity as this lycra-covered lump.

cosplay crotch

An image that messes with the mind even more when looked at in all its lime green leotard-clad lustre.

cosplay cutie

A ‘young lady’, who despite her pleasant persona, continues to haunt my dreams, frequently joining forces with her companions who are almost as questionable as her crotch.

cosplay cuties

Apologies to those who have seen the pictures before, but my therapist insists that I confront my memories head on, rather than cowardly trying to conceal them.

On a lighter note, further questions for Japan Unwrapped – although preferably not groinal region related – can be submitted here, or alternatively left in the comments section below.

Horrible housing

Despite the relatively rapid rate that buildings go up (and down) in Tokyo, it’s somewhat surprising that there are still a good number of these aged and awful abodes about.

old japanese house

How cold they must be in winter doesn’t bear thinking about, although having ventured into one such home a while ago, the lack of insulation may not be the only worry for tentative tenants – a cesspit and a hole for a toilet arguably making a mere lack of warmth a minor concern. Even worse is that the rather cramped nature of such places means the pit’s pungent aroma pervades the whole house, with fresh waves of it wafting through each room every time the bathroom door is opened. A far cry indeed from the toilet technology Japan is often famed for.

Still, some of them do have rather more modern means of moving waste matter, and with the odd personal touch, they can look a little more welcoming – sort of.

old japanese house

And whilst the majority of Tokyo’s millions of apartment dwellers have to make do with a cramped balcony for drying laundry, many of these domiciles do have more in the way of outdoor space.


Even boasting room for parking too.

old japanese house

Although sadly that’s not always the case. In fact, far from it at times.

old japanese houses

And anyway, whether any extra space makes up for some of the other, rather less attractive attributes, is debatable to say the least.

old japanese house

(click images for larger, less than lovely living spaces)

Soporific sport

While Japanese mobile phone operator Softbank has recently been in the headlines over the hullabaloo surrounding the allegedly large sums of money paid to Cameron Diaz and Brad Pitt for their work in the company’s current ad campaign, its affiliate Softbank Players has, after much speculation, taken the much less media friendly option of bailing out debt-ridden sport Banei horse racing.

banei japanese horse racing

A peculiar pastime that, for those who don’t follow the sport, involves huge horses pulling even heavier weights up a track that is seemingly designed to slow proceedings down even further.

The racecourses Banei-Keiba are 200-meter-long straight separate courses with two humps in the middle. The whole course is covered with over 30-centimeter deep sand, and horses starting from the starting gate clear the 1-meter high first hump and next fight over the 1.5-meter high second hump. Steel sleighs pulled by the horses are loaded with weights, and horses compete with each other by pulling the over 500-kilogram sleighs.

There again, with the right marketing, Banei does have the potential to be popular with those suffering from heart problems or sleeping disorders – its preposterously ponderous pace and complete lack of excitement possibly making it more effective than beta-blockers or sleeping pills. The 4-minute video below offering a suitably soporific sample.

Arguably the only brief moment of interest – which mercifully happens early on – is the mention of the unusually named horse, Super Clinton. A clip of which, if you are really that interested, can be seen here.

Finally, for those who have watched the video in its entirety, driving or operating heavy machinery is not advisable until you have fully recovered your senses.