Samurai Dave: The Roving Ronin Report

Rambling Narrative of Travels, Thoughts, and Embellishments

Tokyo Decadance at Fbar Roppongi

On June 25th I went to the Tokyo Youtube Gathering at the Sports Cafe in Roppongi. Got there late but got my butt kicked by a couple of Oolong Hi’s (or was it 4 or 5?) Tokyo Decadance that eclectic hodge-podge of Japanese underground subculture happened to be going on the same night a few blocks away so I donned my samurai armor (which got me a discount at the door) and took a couple of Youtubers over there after the Youtube meet-up.

We had a good time and saw some wild stuff which some of it can’t be shown here for the obvious reasons but take out word for it – it was wild! Youtubers in attendance: http://www.youtube.com/edtomorrow
http://www.youtube.com/StreetEnglishTV

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July 29, 2011 Posted by | clubbing, cosplay, cute, dance, japan, Japanese girls, party, sexy, subculture, tokyo, tokyo decadance, WTF | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Interview with Cute Japanese Singer Sachika

A couple of weeks ago I went to see my friend Sachika sing at an outdoor event and later went to karaoke with her and her friend. Sachika is not a professional singer but she has done a lot of singing over the years since age 6. She likes to sing R&B, pop, enka, and her own original songs.

http://www.youtube.com/user/SingerSachika

Singing “If Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keyes

Singing Enka Classic Tsugaru Kaikyo Fuyugeshiki (津軽海峡・冬景色)

Singing Mito Komon TV Song with another cute Japanese Girl

Singing Norah Jones “Don’t Know Why”

January 20, 2011 Posted by | cute, enka, j-pop, japan, Japanese girls, jpop, karaoke, singing, travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Brief Interview with Cute sexy Peruvian Waitress of Japanese Descent in Nagoya

In Japan, you always run into interesting people. While I was chowing down on a burger at Shooters in Nagoya I happened to meet a cute sexy Peruvian waitress whose grandfather was Japanese. I decided to interview her in order to dig deep into the complex social nuances of a foreigner of Japanese descent in Japan and their immersion into Japanese culture and….uh….errr… oh, hell! Did I mention she was cute and sexy? I really have no other reason to upload this video except for that. I was just trying to rationalize it, sorry!

February 11, 2010 Posted by | cute, girls, japan, Nagoya, Only in Japan, Peru, sexy, travel, video, vlog | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hello Kitty Samurai!

Hello Kitty Samurai!!!

Hello Kitty Samurai

I was visiting Hikone which lies an hour north of Kyoto when I chanced upon a unusual figure in samurai armor. What struck me immediately as odd was that it didn’t have the typical scowl I had usually come to associate with statues and the like depicting samurai. On closer inspection I realized it was Japan’s official tourism ambassador, Hello Kitty, all decked out like a samurai warrior of bygone ages.


Hikone Castle is one Japan’s few preserved castles

Hikone was home to Ii clan. The land was given to their first lord Ii Naomasa whose scowling visage can be seen frozen in bronze outside of the train station.


The fierce Ii Naomasa scowls welcomingly to visitors

Naomasa served Tokugawa Ieyasu who became Shogun or military ruler over all of Japan in 1603. Naomasa fought in numerous battles and was wounded scores of times. His men were famous for painting their armor red. They were known as the Red Devils and the sight of them brought out screams of terror from their enemies.


Red Devil Armor

Now the Red Devils are tastefully emasculated with this lovely recreation of them in Hello Kitty dolls and the sight of them brings out squeals of delight from Japanese schoolgirls.


The Hello Kitty Red Devils


Off to storm the castle


Only in Japan!

October 24, 2008 Posted by | Blogroll, cute, entertainment, Hello Kitty, Hikone, Ii Naomasa, japan, japanese culture, life, Only in Japan, travel, weird, WTF | , , , , | 2 Comments

Kawaii (Cute) Japan: Bubble-blowing Stitch Toy

Here’s some footage I shot at an arcade game center in Tokyo of an automatic bubble-blowing toy in the shape of Stitch from Lilo&Stitch.

Stitch is a popular character in the Kawaii Culture in Japan 

August 30, 2007 Posted by | blowing bubbles, cute, gadget, japan, kawaii, life, Lilo&Stitch, Stitch, tokyo, toy, travel, video | 1 Comment

Low Attendance for Seijin-no-Hi: Japan’s Coming of Age Day

Following up last year’s story on Japan’s Coming of Age Day: Seijin-no-Hi, I went back to Meiji Shrine this year to see newest adults celebrating their entrance into adulthood.


A Gaggle of Giggling Girls

Once again the streets of Japan were filled (or slightly filled as the records show this year) with girls celebrating their coming into adulthood wearing traditional long-sleeved kimono known as furisode.

Age 20 is the legal adult age in Japan and over 50 years ago a national holiday known as Seijin-no-Hi (“Coming of Age Day”) was established to give these new adults a day to celebrate.


Basking in her one-day celebrityhood

This is the day especially for young women to shine and achieve celebrity-like status in their gorgeous furisode kimono. Temples and shrines are mobbed with kimono-clad girls posing away while fervid photographers snap away.

This year’s Coming of Age Day however marks one of the lowest turn outs since 1987. The Baby Boom generation had it’s highest number of 20 year olds in 1970 with 2.46 million and their children registered 2.04 million in 1994.

The overall figure of today’s 20 year olds is a grim 1.09% of the entire population. This year’s low numbers has rekindled the brooding fear of a top-heavy population of the elderly over a smaller population of youth.

With more and more baby boomers getting prepared for retirement, there is a legitimate fear of labor shortages in the near future. The Japanese government has so far been relunctant to ease immigration policies which would help to fill growing labor gaps.

In contrast to the grim foreboding future of a youth-less Japanese society and the nightmare to right-wingers of growing foriegn labor, the number of marriages and births has gone up in recent times prompting hope.

All this gloom seemingly did not faze the new adults. They were too busy getting their pictures taken, riding the rides at Disneyland, and simply enjoying their special day.

January 10, 2007 Posted by | Blogroll, cute, festival, japan, kimono, seijin-no-hi, tokyo, travel | 3 Comments

Risque Japanese Action Figures

I was strolling through Geek Town, Akihabara in downtown Tokyo where geek is chic and dork is bork. Amongst the myriad stores bulging with electronic doodads, gizmos, and whatdahellisdats I stumbled upon several stores offering the titillating (with emphasis on “tit” )  plastic fun of action figures that I never saw under any Christmas tree when I was a wee one – and its probably just as well all things considering.

Here are some of the rather risque action figures I saw for sell in non-porn affliated stores.

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Ah, yes the ubquitos school girls in their short, short sinfully short skirts with a maid friend of theirs

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S&M Action figures put you in the box

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Goth French Maid Action Figure ready to serve you at only 500 Yen

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A collection of sweety-kins in their undergarments

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School Girl Action Figure with standard huge bust

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Daffy super heriones – one who has the slit of her dress in the front rather than the side

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Somebody’s imagination ran wild here

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Life-size School Girl Action figure for only 300,000 Yen (nearly $3000). Why anyone would want or need a life-size school girl action figure is too naseusating to even contemplate. Best to just move on…

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Big-Busted Super Herione. Saving the World by creating embarrassing erections in the criminal underworld

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Whoa, nellie!

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A demure maid waiting for geek cliente at her Maid Cafe

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Now this is just going into the realm of Wrong…

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Now this isn’t a suggestive position. Not at all.

October 8, 2006 Posted by | action figures, akihabara, Blogroll, cute, entertainment, geek, risque, sexy, tokyo, travel, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Japanese Snow Monkeys Enjoy a Warm Dip to fight Winter’s Chill

Generally when one thinks of monkeys and their environment, one imagines tropical jungles, not snowy hills. This is what makes the native Japanese monkey, the macaque or “snow monkey,” so unique. The Japanese macaque is the only species of monkey that lives as far north as it does. Macaques can be found in several places in Japan in environments raging from subtropical to sub-alpine. The northernmost group of Japanese macaque grow thick furry coats in winter.

Japanese Macaques have thick winter coats

In the 1970s Life magazine first featured the Japanese macaque monkey enjoying a wintry dip in a hot springs near Nagano. Thus was born the international fame of the so-called “snow monkeys” of Japan. With their thick fur coats, almost human-like faces, and their deep, soulful eyes, the snow monkeys quickly won the hearts of people worldwide.

Playing in the snow

Macaques grow to 79 to 95 cm (2 to 4 feet) and weigh 10 to 14 kg (20 to 60 pounds). The males are generally larger than the females, but females outnumber the males in their social groups. Macaques live about 30 years and reach adulthood around 3 or 5.

WARNING!!!!
DO NOT stare into thoughtful eyes
Monkey and visitor exchange glances

Although the snow monkeys possess such wonderful and thoughtful eyes, visitors should NOT stare directly into them. Staring is seen as an act of an aggression and a visitor looking to commune with the spirits of nature may suddenly find their nose communing with the sharp teeth of an enraged snow monkey.

Macaque groups, called troops, have a strict hierarchy. An older male monkey with several male helpers rules a troop, deciding on where and when to migrate, as well as providing protection from other troops. Troops are composed of males and females of various ranks.

Enjoying a Massage at the Onsen (Hot Spring)

Males will move from troop to troop, but females will stay in their troop their whole life. Female rank is very important, as their babies will retain the hierarchical rank of their mother. Troops leaders have sometimes received their status due primarily to the position of their mother within the troop.

Photographers swarming to get pictures of oblivious bathing monkeys

Macaques are known to transmit acquired knowledge to each other. Scientists observed a female macaque washing a sweet potato before eating it. She was the first one to be observed doing this behavior. Soon after, the rest of her troop began washing their sweet potatoes before eating them.

This behavior then apparently spread rapidly through all macaque groups in Japan. This phenomenon led to the Hundredth Monkey Meme that after a certain number of monkeys learn new behavior this behavior somehow will spread throughout monkey-kind. It was also believed this that theory explains how ideas are spread in human societies. The theory, though discredited, persists, particularly among New Agers.

Baby monkey enjoying a bath

Monkeys hold a special place in Japanese religion and folklore. In native Shintoism monkeys are seen as the messengers of river and certain mountain gods. With the influx of Buddhism and Chinese culture, in which monkeys also had an important place, monkeys flourished, and their legends spead accordingly. Monkeys became demon-quellers and the protective spirits for childbirth and for warding off evil. The famous “hear, speak, and see no evil” monkeys are believed to have originated at the Tendai Shinto Buddhist complex on Mt. Hiei, north of Kyoto.

The Monkey and the Jellyfish
How a Clever Monkey Saved His Liver
A Thoughtful Monkey and Gullible Jellyfish

Japanese Monkey Tales often exalt the cleverness and resourcefulness of monkeys. One of the most popular stories about monkeys in Japan is the story of the monkey and the jellyfish. A long, long time ago the great Sea King’s wife was sick and for some reason the only thing that would cure her was a monkey’s liver.

Since monkeys lived on land and fish is the sea, it seemed a hopeless task to procure one. However, one marine creature was the obvious choice for such a quest – the jellyfish. With its strong bones and hard shell, the jellyfish was well-suited to go onto the land and seek out a monkey. The jellyfish soon found a curious monkey to whom it impressed with its description of the Sea King’s Palace. The jellyfish offered the monkey passage to the wondrous realm of the Sea King upon its hard shell.

The eager monkey agreed and off they went. Along the way, the monkey grew concerned about the nature of their conversation which seemed revolve around livers particularly his own. The jellyfish eventually went too far and let slip the purpose its visit. The monkey was naturally alarmed as anyone would be if they found themselves in the middle of the ocean on the back of a jellyfish’s shell and discovering that their liver was to be the guest of honor rather than themselves.

But with cleverness being his birthright, the monkey hid his fear and began to lament. He told the jellyfish that in his haste to go to the Sea King’s Palace, he had unfortunately left his liver hanging in a tree which of course is what all monkeys do when they go climbing. The jellyfish not being the smartest of Scyphozoans believed him and rushed back to land with his liver-less monkey. When they reached land, the monkey leaped into the trees and instead of monkey liver, the gullible jellyfish received only monkey laughter. The Sea King was noticeably put out when he heard the quaking jellyfish’s report. He ordered the bones of the jellyfish to be removed and its shell to beaten to a pulp. And today the jellyfish and its descendants float about boneless and shell-less while giving monkeys a wide berth.

In areas like Nagano, where snowfall can reach record depths, the macaques seeking respite from the cold head for hot spring areas. North of Nagano city is the hot spring area of Yudanaka, which is popular with humans and simians alike. In the early 1960s a female macaque arrived here and found the hot springs to her liking, and others soon followed. A park was later created in the area where monkeys and their distant cousins humans could mingle.

A Dignified Snow Monkey enjoys his bath with admirable restraint

Although the Monkey Park goes by the ominous-sounding name “Hell’s Valley” (Jigokudani), the monkeys seem unperturbed by it as they play and bathe with reckless abandon. To them, Hell’s Valley is simply heaven. At the entrance to the park is a hot spring center for humans, where they can share a bath with monkeys if they so desire. There are two outdoor baths that adventurous monkeys will wander down to in order to observe the bathing rituals of humans. For those who might be put off by monkeys gawking at them, there are indoor baths as well.

The macaques of Japan number between 35,000 to 50,000. Due to destruction of their habitats and shootings by farmers, the macaque population has declined, and they are now on the endangered species list. Those wanting to learn more about Japanese snow monkeys and watching them live can check the following website: http://www.jigokudani-yaenkoen.co.jp/

Onsen bath complete with Snow Monkey Companion
Getting there
Snowy path and a snow monkey face carved in snow

Getting to the monkeys requires a bit of time if one is not staying in Yudanaka itself. From Nagano City, take the Nagano Dentetsu train to Yudanaka. It takes about an hour or so. From Yudanaka station take a 15 minute bus ride to Kanbayashi Onsen. Go up the hill and follow the signs to the beginning of the trail. It’s a 30-minute walk along a narrow trail. In winter, the trail is covered in snow so one must be careful of slipping and from falling patches of snow from evergreen branches. /

August 6, 2006 Posted by | animals, Blogroll, cute, japan, jigokudani, macaque, monkey, nagano, snow monkey, travel, Uncategorized, yudanaka | 6 Comments