This Week in the Less Conventional News (15 April update)

It’s rare that I do a “News Roundup,” but the past several days have produced stories from Asia that just beg to be shared.  Some important, some interesting, some disturbing. . .  Judge for yourself.

Cleaning Crew. Shibuya, Tokyo. 2007.


+  Police Investigate Ibaraki Prefecture Man Killed by Python

This one’s sad, and a bit eerie to me I’ve been with a python in Ibaraki Prefecture before.  It was under adult supervision at the Kamine Zoo in Hitachi (an Ibaraki Prefecture city).  In fact, zoo officials sort of insisted.

Ben & Jerry’s Opens Flagship Store in Tokyo

Excerpt:   “The Tokyo store includes digital menu boards in Japanese and English, to inform customers about the popular U.S. flavors, as well as those exclusive to Japan.”

+   Kyocera to Build Japan’s Largest Solar Power Plant in Kagoshima Prefecture

Excerpt:  “[The plant] will provide enough electricity for roughly 22,000 households annually and, if replacing power generated from fossil fuels, will offset around 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide. . . .”

Policeman in Schoolgirl Uniform Arrested for Flashing  (some cops are bad, others weird, some combine the two).

Excerpt:  “Reports say the 37-year-old man was dressed in a sailor-style schoolgirl uniform at the time of the offense.”



Taj Mahal Tourist. Agra. 2007.

+  Bollywood Start Shah Rukh Khan Detained Again at U.S. Airport:  India NOT Happy

Excerpt:  “The actor was detained for over two hours by immigration officials after he arrived from India in a private plane with a group that included Nita, wife of Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani, to address students at Yale University.”

    +  Joy of Electrification Lights Up Homes in These Remote Tribal Hamlets

Excerpt:  “Like the radiance from the new solar powered compact fluorescent lights (CFL) in his home, M. Ganesamurthy’s face shines with glee. His dwelling amid the jungles of the Western Ghats near Papanasam has received power connection, something which was beyond the imagination of the tribal population.”  



Market in Anshan, China. 2005.

+  China Deletes 210,000 Online Posts Over “Rumors”  (let freedom ring).

Excerpt:  “‘Actions of creating and spreading rumours via the Internet disrupt public order and undermine social stability, and will never be tolerated,’ the report quoted Liu Zhengrong, an official with the State Internet Information Office, which controls the web, as saying.” (gad)

Shaolin Kung Fu Museum Celebrates Groundbreaking Ceremony  (from 2 weeks ago, but worth mentioning)

Excerpt:  The foundation of Shaolin Kung Fu Museum was laid Thursday in Shaolin Tagou Kung Fu School, three kilometers northeast away from Shaolin Temple in central China’s Henan province.



O.K., here’s a weird & creepy bonus:  North Korea’s (the “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s) OFFICIAL website.

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll want to vomit when you get done browsing the site of this Nightmare Disneyland.

“The DPRK is the Juche-oriented socialist state which embodies the idea and leadership of Comrade Kim II Sung, the founder of the Republic and the father of socialist Korea.”

Sure.  Whatever.

Here’s a little vid I made about 18 months ago, not long before new crazed, creepy dictator, Kim Jong-Un took over after his dad, Kim Jong-Il, kicked the dictatorial bucket.  Jong-Un was “heir apparent,” then.  Now he’s just Dynastic Dictator No. 3.

*               *               *

    • shaunateaken
    • April 14th, 2012

    Love it! Thanks Rick!

      • letsjapan
      • April 15th, 2012

      Oh, the thanks is all mine to you for stopping by. I may do this, post such a thing, every couple months, keeping on the lookout in the mean time for particularly unusual or interesting or important bits of news. Let’s call this a little dry run.

      Cheers to you,


  1. Cool about the Shaolin museum. My daughter just passed her last belt test at our temple. She will be excited to learn about the museum.

      • letsjapan
      • April 15th, 2012

      So glad you found that little piece interesting. Do you know the movie “The 36th Chamber of Shaolin?” Classic. Fun. Congratulations to your daughter, too!


  2. Most touching was the story about the bringing of electricity to that settlement in Tamil Nadu. I lived in Liberia for a time, and got to experience the bringing of electricity to a few villages. It was magical – and He Who Owned A Generator could be next to the village chief in status!

    I was astonished by the Japanese policeman in the sailor suit. Most astonishing was reading the comments. Apparently there are some things about Japan I have yet to learn.

    And finally – that North Korean site. Oh, gosh. Terrifying that some of the rhetoric sounds like a few ideologues around here. But the best? The website’s “shop”. All of those marvelous posters, labeled “Propaganda 1”, “Propaganda 2” and so on. I suppose when you’re in total control, there’s no need for further pretense.

      • letsjapan
      • April 15th, 2012

      I was in Thanjavur (Tamil Nadu) in 2006 with a small group of people, just strolling down the street one night, when the lights went out. Thanjavur’s *not* a small town. It’s population tops 200,000. The blackout was only for an hour or so, if I recall correctly. Anyway, I was told it’s not an uncommon thing and, indeed, within minutes of the Total Darkness kicking-in, many shop owners had their Honda and other little generators going and their little stores were blazing away in the night. Apparently they were all prepared.

      That weird, wacky and wantonly perverse Japanese cop: yeh, doesn’t really fit the stereotype of the staid and conservative Japanese businessman, does it? On the other hand, if you’ve ever seen some of the manga Japanese men read oh-so-casually on the trains and subways, you might wonder why this kind of creepiness doesn’t happen more often. Of course it does, but just in their imaginations ( ! ).

      Oh, I wish *everybody* could see that North Korean site. It’s simply surreal, hilarious and disturbing. I mean, gad, it’s like its own self-parody! As the expression goes: “You can’t make this stuff up!” Well, of course, you can. It just wouldn’t be as creepy-yet-laughable as the real thing.

      Thanks always for dropping in.


    • Lois
    • April 16th, 2012

    The Friends of North Korea sites are very very (unintentionally) funny. Small child with a rifle? Cruella De Vil hair on the Great Leader? And they’re written in such good English which means someone is either a very keen Marxist-Leninist or was just having a very good time.

      • letsjapan
      • April 17th, 2012

      Lois, I’m hoping that some U.S. ad agency will adopt the North Korean Stylebook as its “bible” or touchstone for generating ad copy.

      “The immortal embodiment of peace, Wondra dishwashing liquid, remains steadfast in its protection of supple hands.”

      “We’re Pronto Airlines: our competitors continue to defy our calls for friendly, low cost service and, instead, rain terror and repression upon its innocent passengers, while we remain stalwart and unshakable in our devotion to on-time service and gentle assistance, in the face of hellish threats.”

      This stuff just writes itself, you know.


    • Todd
    • April 16th, 2012

    Man, even *Bob Wills* was North Korean? That is awesome! Now, that explains his reputed super-charisma 😉

      • letsjapan
      • April 17th, 2012

      Todd, I think that very few people know Bob Wills was merely his stage name. He was born “Kim Jong-TexasPlayboy.”


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