Enka Statue

I need to get up to Hokkaido. This statue of enka singer Hosokawa Takashi at a rest stop area in Makkari, Hokkaido actually plays music! Sensors on a back panel let you choose a few of the singer's greatest hits, and a speaker blasts the songs out at an incredible volume. Hosokawa is the singer of one of my favorite enka songs "Kita Sakaba."


Kate Bush in Japan

I used to listen to Kate Bush all the time. Even had posters of her on my bedroom wall at home and my dorm room in college. Now I just found this British video newsreport of Kate Bush traveling to Japan in 1978 to compete in the Tokyo Song Contest. Pretty cool. It looks like she visited Meiji Shrine before the peformance. But I guess she didn't pray hard enough there since she only took home the silver prize. I don't know too much about her popularity in Japan back then or even now. Judging from the karaoke parlor song book lists, she was never that big. The only Kate Bush song I can ever find at karaoke here is "Wuthering Heights," and even that is listed under Pat Benatar, who covered the song on one of her own albums.


Birthday Cake

So it was my birthday last week. Rie special-ordered a cake for me from Akita Prefecture. I should have known something was up when several weeks ago she asked me if I could be any "Star Wars" character, which one would I be. Well, when the cake was delivered to her door, she started laughing. The cake was supposed to be me as Han Solo frozen in carbonite. It looked more like me on a chocolate coffin. I'll have to post a photo of the entire cake later on, but for now here is the aftermath. My mini-head and my big head, together at last.


Scent of a Man

I don't think I have bad breath (except for when I wake up). And I don't think I smell bad in general. But this gum for men, called "Otoko Kaoru" is supposed to make your body exhude a nice fragrance. The name means something like "Man Fragrance," which actually sounds kind of gross since I don't think men smell all that great. The flavor is Extra Rose Menthol, and the images on the package are of a rose -- overall, not very manly. The packaging itself, however, is really done well, and that is probably what got me to buy it in the first place. Not only is the package done in blood red and deep black, the inside wrappers also alternate from red to black. Each wrapper is different: some have just lettering on it, some have just a rose, etc. I've chewed most of the pack at work, but so far no one seems to have noticed.