Samurai Dave: The Roving Ronin Report

Rambling Narrative of Travels, Thoughts, and Embellishments

Asashoryu Retires from Sumo Video Discussion

Long video discussing the retirement of Asashoryu, the yokozuna (sumo champion) of Sumo in Japan.

Asashoryu announced his retirement recently.

February 9, 2010 Posted by | asashoryu, Givemeabreakman, japan, news, Sport, Sports News, sumo, video, vlog, yokozuna, youtube | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Rock the Vote II – Sumo Video “The Director’s Cut”

 This another video that I’ve upload to Current TV. It’s a “Director’s Cut” of my recent sumo video with a title sequence, 30 seconds of extended footage, and extra tidbits of information.

 If you feel like voting please go to:

register and vote!


June 23, 2007 Posted by | asashoryu, Blogroll, current tv, japan, life, media, news, Sport, sumo, tokyo, travel, TV, video, yokozuna | 2 Comments

Japan To “Re-Assess” Whaling Ban For Their White Elephant Whaling Industry

Japan To Host Special IWC Conference In February to Discuss Whaling Ban
Japanese Whaling Vessel With A Successfully Caught Scientific Research Project

Japan’s announcement to host a special IWC – International Whale Commission – conference this February in order to “re-assess” the population of whales has been met with outrage from activists and anti-whaling nations. Japan leads the pro-whaling block of nations from Africa, Caribbean, and Pacific Islands and hopes with their assistance to lift the ban on commercialized whaling. Right now the Japanese Whaling Fleet is playing a cat-and-mouse game in the Southern Ocean with anti-whaling ships lead by Greenpeace and the controversial Sea Shepherd Society. The Sea Shepherd Society has offered $25,000 for the location of the whaling fleet which is believed to be using satellite technology to avoid them. Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd are not expected to co-operate as Greenpeace has criticized the group for apparently going too far in their protest in the past while Sea Shepherd accuses Greenpeace of showboating but doing little else to actually save the whales.

Commercialized whaling has been internationally banned for over twenty years. Whales were near the brink of extinction at the  time the ban was put in place. Iceland and Norway are the only nations that officially ignore the ban. Bowing to threats of economic sanctions from the US, Japan relunctantly accepted the ban but it continues to hunt whales for “scientific research.”. This “scientific research” nets about 800-1000 whales every year. The main target of this research is the more numerous minke whale but other species have been hunted in smaller numbers such as the Sperm, Sei, and Byrd’s whales, and just recently the Fin Whale. This year Japanese whalers plan to hunt at least 50 Fin and Humpback Whales.

A Minke Whale Carcass Is Hauled Away For Scientific Research

After the research is supposedly performed, the whales often end up in restaurants and supermarkets for the scientific perusal of the average consumer.

Like many island nations, Japan has a long history of whaling. They used everything of the whale from the oil, meat, and bone. Commercialized whaling didn’t really develop until late due to Japan’s long period of isolation. It was only after WWII that whale meat became a major part of the the Japanese diet due to overall food shortages following the war. Whale meat became a customary item in children’s lunches. It should be pointed out that at this time, whale meat was not seen as a culinary delicacy in the post-war period but as a substitute source of protein. Basically, it was the poor man’s steak not the rich man’s pate.

The overall demand is not very high for whale meat in Japan nor for whale byproducts. While some old-timers may wax nostaglically on their old school lunches, for others who were alive during that time, whale meat reminds them of poverty. The whalers are trying to create demand rather than supply a demand as the tons of whale meat that has gone unsold over the past few years shows. Precious whale meat was also discovered in pet food in 2003 by Environmental Investigation Agency; no doubt a last ditch effort to unload unsold whale meat.

A Whaling Ship From Ayukawa In Northern Japan

Japanese whalers maintain that hunting whales has been a long cultural tradition. This is true but it has never been such an integral part of Japanese culture that its absence would cause any irrepairable if even visible damage. In addition, the overall Japanese economy is hardly dependent on the industry.

Japanese whalers and other whaling nations contend that part of their purpose for whaling is that whales deplete fishing stocks. However the species of whales mainly collected for Japanese scientific research, the minke of the North Pacific and Antartic regions, show their consumption consists almost entirely of krill and not fish. Over-fishing is the main culprit behind dwindling fish stocks not scapegoatish whales. When Japanese whalers maintain this opinion, it simply furthers the opinion that their research is useless as they themselves pay no attention to the results. The concept of culling the herds is not very applicable in this case as it would be with deer and caribou who lack a natural predator and have more-limited space in which to live.

Japan, Iceland, Norway, and other pro-whaling nations have a hard row to hoe against such widespread condemnation of whaling. History is the main stumbling block for these nations to overcome in order to get the ban lifted. One has only to look at the history of whaling and its effect on the overall species to see why measures are so strict. Mankind has constantly shown itself to be carelessly ruthless in the eradication or near-extinction of many species that were once numerous. A mere twenty years have passed since the international ban on whaling was put in place. Twenty years seems a relatively short time for a species that had been hunted with such fierce efficiency in just the last two centuries alone to make such an amazing recovery that it now requires culling. Apparently the significant numbers killed every year from hunting, scientific research, and accidents are not enough.

A Covered-Up Harpoon-Gun

Whalers pushed the whales to the brink of extinction only a few decades ago. What makes pro-whaling nations think anyone will trust them to only hunt their quota and not do the same thing again that they did before? With factory ships that can process their catches at sea away from prying eyes in remote areas, it makes whaling more difficult to manage than land-based hunting. Pro-whaling nations barely hold back now under the ban. How will they behave without the ban with such an indignant attitude?

Furthermore, the whaling industry today seems to resemble another rare species: a white elephant. Whaling is far more expensive to maintain compared to the profit attainable. Commericialized whaling for Japan would only result in more unsold whale meat and fat guilt-ridden pets. Some whale meat has even been found to be contaminated by pollutants that are harmful to pregnant women and children. So much for children’s lunchboxes – the minke whale meat while leaner and without the contamination is typically more expensive and less likely to be put in children’s lunches on a large scale. The Japanese government has been wasting a significant amount of money on their white elephant industry through IWC political-wrangling and vainly trying to promote the image of whale meat to the general public particularly to the youth who have no memories of leaner times when abundant whale meat symbolized poverty. So far it has been money ill-spent as the whale fleet rushes off to replenish the stock of whale meat that has succumbed to the consumption of freezer-burn rather than voracious consumer demand.

There’s more money to be had in whale-watching these days than whale-hunting. A clever whaler would trade in his harpoon-gun for a telescope and take whale-photo-hunters on a more profitable venture without shelling out hundreds of thousands of dollars on sophisticated equipment just to avoid those pesky anti-whaling groups.

A Factory Ship Now Used As A Musuem But Seemingly Ready To Sail If The Ban Is Lifted

February 1, 2007 Posted by | ayukawa, Blogroll, environment, greenpeace, IWC, japan, life, news, sea shepard, tokyo, whales, whaling | 6 Comments

Warm Weather Makes Japanese Wintry Dip Seem Refreshing

Warm Weather Makes Japanese Wintry Dip Seem Refreshing
Warm Winter Weather Portents Of Severe Global Warming?

Less Blue Skin Than Last Year

“From the earliest period Shinto exacted scrupulous cleanliness … It is not uncommon for the very fervent worshipper to invoke the gods as he stands naked under the ice-cold rush of a [waterfall] in midwinter.” – Lafcadio Hearn, Japan: an Attempt at Interpretation, 1904.

Recently an annual purification ritual at Tokyo’s Kanda Myojin Shrine was held. The ritual involved men and women jumping into a shallow pool of freezing cold natural water and showering themselves vigorously with bucketfuls of icy water. These purification-through-freezing-water rituals known as Misogi are often held in Winter to display the fierce dedication of the participants.

Young Girls Brave The Cold Water And The Warm Winter

Most winters, particulary the record cold one last year, this ritual would be viewed as brave, strong, and more than a little insane. However, this winter given the abnormally warm temperatures, it actually looked rather refreshing.

Preparing For Their Refreshing Wintry Dip

With the exception of a few storms here and there, Japan’s winter has been exceptionally warm this year. This is in sharp contrast to last year when record snowfalls blanketed the northwestern coast and over a hundred people died in snow-related injuries.

Heavy Snowfall Last Winter In Nagano

Even Tokyo was hit with a significant amount of snow.

Last Winter’s Snow In Ueno Park in Tokyo

The winter has also been conspiciously late. Autumn leaf viewing has long been a popular tradition in Japan but in Autumn! Autumn and Winter seemed to have set their seasonal alarm clocks rather late. People were viewing Autumn leaves in Kyoto as late as New Year’s Eve!

Beautiful Autumn Foliage – But Two Days Before Christmas!?

A number of Japanese ski slopes only received their first heavy snow within the last few weeks. Several skiing events had to be cancelled or relocated to better slopes.

The warm weather is not only in Japan. Prior to the ice storms now sweeping across much of the US, the weather in many places felt like a fine day in April rather than January. The ice storms themselves are byproduct of the unnaturally warm weather.

Perhaps Former US Vice-President Al Gore saw the Kanda Myojin Shrine event and took note of the lack of blue skin of the participants because he was in Japan recently urging Japanese business leaders to set the example for the world to follow on environmental policies.

Gore mentioned Japan’s unusually warm winter and the early blooming Cherry Blossoms in Washington D.C. were ominious signs that not all was well.

Stretching Out Their Cold Limbs After Their Dip

“Our planet now has a fever. And it’s not going away,” Gore said. “We have a moral obligation to those coming after us.”

Gore was also promoting his documentary An Inconvenient Truth on global warming.

Obviously Smarter, The Japanese Snow Monkey Prefers A Hot Bath To A Cold One In Winter

January 19, 2007 Posted by | Blogroll, global warming, japan, life, matsuri, misogi, news, politics, purification, Shinto, snow, snow monkey, tokyo, travel, winter | 3 Comments

A Bird At The Tower: Britain’s First Female Beefeater

Can Female Beefeater Guard Crown Jewels And Greet Tourists?
London Tower’s Famous Beefeater Guards Admit First Female to their Ranks

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Can she handle the beef?

Britain has had female queens and a female prime minister but is Britain ready for a female Beefeater?

The Tower of London has a new Beefeater guard and it’s a woman, the first ever. Plus she’s reportedly frightened of ravens; a problem since ravens are a protected commodity at her new work place.

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The Tower of London In The Morning Mist

Moira Cameron, hailing from Argyll, Scotland is the first woman ever to be chosen as Beefeater. She beat five other male candidates for the position. Two women have applied for position in the past but Cameron was the first to be successful.

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One Of The Tower’s Beefeater Yeoman Warders

The Beefeaters have been guarding the Tower of London since the late 15th Century. Their official title is the Yeoman Warder of Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London. They were first established by Henry VII shortly after he relieved Richard III of the crown at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.

Theirs was the task to protect the illustrious Crown Jewels and guard the number of high profile prisoners who spent time at the Tower and sometimes were executed on nearby Tower Hill.

The origin of the word “beefeater” is unknown. Some theories say the term comes from the ration of beef the Yeoman Warders received. Recent theories suggest the word beefeater is derogatory term by Londoners who thought the guards were a little too pampered.

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The White Tower Keep

Two hundred years ago records show that the Yeoman Warders received a daily ration of 24 pounds of beef, 18 pounds of mutton, and 16 pounds of veal. Obviously the beefeaters must have divided this large amount amongst their family and close friends. One should hope at least or otherwise prisoners of the Tower could have easily escaped knowing that no guard would be able to chase them down without suffering a massive heart attack.

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The Legendary Ravens Of The Tower Whose Very Presence Keeps The Monarchy Stable

Nowadays, Yeoman Warders face the grim, daunting task of greeting millions of tourists every year with historical insights and personal anecdotes whilst cracking quips and puns to the amusement or horror of their gathered audience.

To be considered for the position of Yeoman Warder, a candidate must have at least 22 years of military service and have reached the rank of a senior NCO (non-commissioned officer) with a good service record. Warders must learn the history of the Tower by heart particularly the bloody and ghostly bits which are always favorites with visitors.

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A Beefeater Carries Out The Ardous Task Of Informing And Entertaining Visitors

Yeoman Warders receive a yearly salary of 20,000 British Pounds, rented accommodations within the Tower, and a blue uniform with red trimmings for most duty days and red and gold one for special occasions such as when the monarch is visiting.

There are currently over thirty Yeoman Warders including the Chief Yeoman Warder, the Yeoman Gaoler who was once in charge of the Tower’s prisoners, and the Ravenmaster. The Ravenmaster has the all important responsibility of looking after the clipped-winged ravens who protect the British monarchy by simply never leaving the Tower.

Moira Cameron’s appointment has not been met with entirely wide open arms from people or Yeoman Warders. According to some reports, a number British citizens and Yeoman Warders are not pleased with the breaking of tradition by admitting a woman into their ranks. Apparently a woman can serve Britain in the armed forces, rule as Queen, and govern as Prime Minister but is somehow unsuitable to wear a blue or red frock and a puffy hat while chatting up the millions of visitors that drop by every year.

Cameron will take up her duties in September after swearing-in speech ceremony that dates back to the mid-14th Century.

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A Potential New Recruit?

January 18, 2007 Posted by | beefeater, Blogroll, England, life, moira cameron, news, tower of london, travel, UK, yeoman warder | 1 Comment

Money Talks And Listens – Spying Canadian Coins

Coins That Spy

A Penny for Your Thoughts and Your Whereabouts
Kooky Canadian Coins

As an American, I’ve always thought Canadian currency a bit funny but not in the “ha! ha!” funny kind of way. More like the “how the hell did I end up with this goddamn Canadian quarter?”  kind of funny. I had always been particularly mystified how Canadian coins periodically would turn up in financial transactions as far south as Alabama. Usually these coins are secretly pawned off on unsuspecting victims mixed in with an assortment of change. The victim having no idea walks off and discovers too late that they’ve been hit by the chain letter of coin currency. Now they have to become the perpetrator of international money laundering.

Now it seems that perhaps these migrant Canadian coins floating about in the flotsam and jetsam of American coinage might not have been so innocent after all or even just part of a harmless but annoying currency prank.

The Pentagon has recently discovered Canadian coins tracking government contractors with high level security clearances. Why Canadian coins would want to track such people or anyone for that matter is a mystery. But it’s beleive that the coins really had no say in the matter and were being used by an unknown group.

The coins were discovered to contain radio frequency transmitters inside them. The Pentagon so far has not released information on how these transmitters exactly function but experts feel such a transmitter would have an effectively short range and be affected by the metal of the coin itself.

The coins would also be at risk of being easily passed on at restaurant or vending machine. Left in a briefcase, however, the coins might not arouse suspicion or be readily spent.

Despite the belief in the ineffectiveness of such a device, the Pentagon insists the coins are real and the risk serious.

The leading suspects who would have access to such technology which might be able to track a person for several kilometers and have actively engaged in espionage in Canada are Russia, China, and France.

Canada is not a suspect but true to its nature apologized anyway. Hollow coins have been used before by US spies to hide film and messages.

So the next time a Canadian coin just “accidentally” pops up amongst your American coins, it might just be a tracking device. The evil Russkies, the commie Chinese, or the godless French could be monitoring your every move . I know I’ll be ready. I’ll bore whoever is tracking me to death with my extreme lack of movement away from my computer and Playstation.

January 11, 2007 Posted by | Blogroll, Canada, CIA, coins, media, news, Pentagon, politics, spies | 8 Comments