Wilke comments

Posted in: Taxi drivers complain about entertainers See in context

It seems that people in all countries dislike taxi drivers. Many project their own faults onto their taxi driver, however, and the result is the contempt they show and the contemptible behaviour they display towards the driver.

I have driven taxis in one country, and have rode in taxis in many countries. In my experience, I have found the standard quality of taxi driver in Japan is much higher than in many - if not most - other countries.

That Japanese taxi drivers manage to do so well in cities where most streets are nameless and properties aren't numbered in any logical manner is something that I find to be astounding. In my home city (in Australia), where all roads have names and the numbering system is that properties are numbered sequentially, you would consider yourself very lucky to have a booked taxi arrive to pick you up within 10 minutes of the booking time, and many drivers now (even with GPS systems) will get lost trying to find you. In Tokyo, I recall booking a taxi to take me from my accommodation in a nameless back street in Asakusa to Tokyo Station, and being told "the taxi will be there in eight minutes." The taxi arrived in exactly eight minutes.

My wife and I earlier this year found ourselves questioning the professionalism of a taxi driver in Yonago. My wife, being a polite Nihonjin, didn't complain, but noted the divergent route that the driver took from the route to which she had been accustomed. However, after mentioning this to another driver, we learnt that at that time there had been major traffic disruptions on her normal route and that the first driver had taken the quickest alternative route.

As for the entertainers who were quasi-mentioned in this article: their behaviour is not surprising. Nor is it acceptable.

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Posted in: Two injured as commuter train derails at Kawasaki See in context

It sounds to me like there may have been a communications error in train control.

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Posted in: Japan, U.S. remain far apart on TPP trade talks: Amari See in context

...declared Obama as America's First Pacific President.

I would have thought that William McKinley was "America's First Pacific President".

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Posted in: No trace of 7 Japanese divers missing off Bali See in context

Tamarama scribed thusly:

The Chinese Navy has been around these parts too....

Of course. The seven missing Japanese scuba divers are in the Chinese submarine with former Australian PM Harold Holt.

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Posted in: Ford Fiesta back in Japan despite past failure See in context

I think the Fiesta and the Mazda Demio have the same underpinnings.

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Posted in: Body of gigolo club boss dissolved in toxic chemicals See in context

@ inakaRob:

Most of definitions of "gigolo" that I can find refer to a "well-dressed male escort" who is financially supported by a woman. The word originated in the 1920s, as a back-formation of "gigolette", which referred to a (female) dancing partner.

None of the definitions mention that the man has to be naked.

The employees of a "host club" probably come closer to the original 1920s definition of "gigolo" than they come to your interpretation of the word to mean "hetrosexual male prostitute."

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Posted in: Abbott elected Australian PM See in context

A 1.5% swing is hardly a "landslide victory".

The likely outcome in the lower house will probably be: 89 seats to the Liberal/National coalition; 57 seats to the ALP; one seat to the Greens and two or three seats to Independents/minor parties (Bob Katter in the north, Andrew Wilkie (no relation) in Tasmania, and possibly an independent unseating Sophie Mirabella in Indi).

In the upper house, the new government will have to negotiate with senators from a hodge-podge of minor parties that are on the far, far right of the political spectrum. One of the minor parties is literally owned by a billionaire mining magnate. The others include an extremely religious party ("Family First") and something called the "Motoring Enthusiasts Party".

It should be an interesting three years...

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Posted in: Man in wheelchair struck, killed by train at railway crossing in Kobe See in context

'tis Rail Safety Week in the Antipodes.

Cameras and software to detect objects / people on crossings and using that information to stop trains would be rather less than effective. Trains need a LOT of room to stop.

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Posted in: NZ joins Australia in court against Japanese whaling See in context

Six years ago, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Catalyst TV programme (http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/s1657789.htm) had a look at the scientific output of JARPA 1 one year after it ended in 2005.

They found that, of the 6800 whales killed for scientific purposes in JARPA 1, only four scientific papers were produced that were relevant to the stated goals of JARPA 1, and that the same data could easily be obtained through research that is not fatal to whales.

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Posted in: What are some of the weirdest examples of English used in ads or on T-shirts, bags, etc, that you have seen in Japan? See in context

Coffee shop for tired lovers in Asakusa: "Café Wan Love"

Another coffee shop for the not-very-ambitious in Nara: "3rd Place Café"

Hairdressers in Iga: "Cut Place Honey Person"

Bland cafe in a back street of Kyoto: "Tits Cafe"

Karaoke for aficionados of 'Peanuts' cartoons in Okayama: "Karaoke Great Pumpkin"

Hotel in Hiroshima surrounded by much taller buildings: "Hotel High Up"

Shops in Okayama:

"one after another Nice Claup",

"The View of Untitled",

"As Know As Pinky",

"aimer feel"

Hairdresser in Kyoto: "hair fairy Yayoi Brains"

Advertisement in concourse of Fukuyama Railway Station: "Time is Brain."

... and the list goes on...

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Posted in: Yamanote line in Tokyo features AKB48 train See in context

According to Wikipedia, there are 51 trains on the Yamanote line that are not decorated with AKB48 photographs

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Posted in: 1,000 train enthusiasts bid farewell to 300 series shinkansen See in context


It wasn't so much in the news as the 300s being retired, but JRWest also retired the much-older 100s on 3.16.

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Posted in: Not so strange after all: The real Japan up close See in context

Tokyo-centric piece, again.

But the writer forgot to mention Asakusa's World Bag & Luggage Museum.

The strangest I've seen lately was one which the beloved dragged me into last month in Onomichi (Hiroshima).

A Maneki Neko museum, it was.

30,000+ Maneki Nekos, all together, on display in a tiny old house.

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Posted in: Wakayama court clears anti-dolphin hunt activist See in context

But dolphins are cute!

They're so cute that even sharks are terrified of them.

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Posted in: Bullet train service disrupted by train enthusiast taking photos See in context


I never said that photographing trains was my hobby. You erroneously assumed that it is.

I took objection to your slandering a group of people ("tripod losers") on the basis of a news report concerning an individual.

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Posted in: Australia marks 70 years since Japan's bombing of Darwin See in context

During WW2, both sides' propaganda dehumanised and demonised the other side. This was particularly the case in the Pacific theatre of that war (For more on this aspect, read John Dower's book War Without Mercy).

Australia was not a British Colony in the 1940s. The six colonies formed a new country in 1901, and in the 1940s the Commonwealth of Australia was a British Dominion -- as were Canada, South Africa and New Zealand.

The Empire of Japan was expanding beyond the archipelago which it had occupied (apart from the occasional attempt to annexe Korea) for nearly 2,000 years. In 1895, Taiwan became a Japanese colony after the Sino-Japanese War. In 1908 Korea again became a Japanese colony and in the 1930s Manchuria became a Japanese colony. However, industrialised and heavily-militiarised Japan also needed to secure access to oil fields, so they expanded their "co-prosperity sphere" to the Indonesian Archipelago. One could assume that the bombing of Darwin, taking place just after the fall of Singapore to Japan, was a pre-emptive move to secure the planned invasion of the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) against counterattack from Holland and its allies.

The bombing of Darwin wasn't widely reported in Australia at the time. Censorship is common in wartime, and any news from Darwin would have first had to be reviewed by the military censors before being released.

That the bombing of Darwin took place two days after the fall of Singapore -- a much bigger news story -- also contributed to its not being reported widely at the time.


The war against Japan was a significant chapter in Australia's national history, and many of its aspects are widely told today, not only through the school syllabus but also through annual commemoration and memorial ceremonies as well as personal and family histories.

That the bombing of Darwin wasn't widely known of in Australia for some years after the war probably is due to a few factors:

One. Darwin, even today, is a long way away from most of the Australian population. In 1942, to get to Darwin from any other major city in Australia would involve a journey of two or three days in an aeroplane, a couple of weeks on a ship or a couple of months travelling overland. Because of Darwin's isolation, it isn't very high in the average Australian's consciousness of things "familiar".

Two. There were many, many things that happened during WW2 in the Western Pacific after the bombing of Darwin that had more effect on people and more significance to the war. The Battle of the Coral Sea was one. The Papua-New Guinea campaign was another.

Three. After the war ended, the news about other events that took place to Australian soldiers in captivity was revealed. The Thai-Burma Railway construction and the Sandakan death marches were but two of them.

To say that recent "Greenpeace incidents" (and, one assumes, coverage of the mid-ocean protests against Japan's whaling fleet) have anything to do with the commemoration of an air raid that happened 70 years ago is, to be charitable, rather an unthinking thing to say.

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Posted in: Bullet train service disrupted by train enthusiast taking photos See in context

@ tmarie:

The tripod carrying losers are lined up on the platforms, their gear is in the way, I've personally seen people trip over their bags and get hit with their gear... Get it? That is causing issues.

From Ueno to Hiroshima to Tottori, the only people I have seen lined up on subway, commuter line, trunk line and Shinkansen platforms are commuters and travellers. There are often special markings on the platforms for those people to line up between. They often have bags and other gear with them, and I have personally seen people trip over and get hit with those bags and other gear on escalators, in elevators and on stairways at railway stations in Japan.

do you know how stressful it is to be stuck on a train later than you should be -

Yes, I do know how stressful it is to be stuck on a train later than I should be. I was stuck on one last night, and I was one of its drivers.

A 51-year-old man had decided to catch the train before mine: unfortunately, it was a freight train and he lost his grip on the side of the waggon as it passed through a remote part of a mountainside.

Our train was the next through the spot, and we had to stop and try to keep him alive (he had lost a hand and a large part of his arm) with little more than a pot of boiling water and a trouser belt until the ambulance arrived.

We were there for more than two hours.

It is now just after sunrise, my work uniform and the driver's seat of my car is covered in that fellow's blood.

Yes, tmarie, I know very well how stressful it is to be stuck on a train, and in a way which I very much doubt you can comprehend.

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Posted in: Bullet train service disrupted by train enthusiast taking photos See in context

tmarie @ 40:

You now state that your comments are justified because, in your opinion, the photographer was "harming others or putting people in harm's way." I fail to see how your reference to "tripod carrying losers" at post 15 fits with your justification at post 40.

Did he hit someone on the head with his camera? Did he impale a poor unsuspecting JR employee with his tripod?

Let's go back to the gist of the story, and the moderator's later addition, in fewer than 40 words:

The photographer was leaning over a boundary fence in a way that a JR staffer judged as dangerous. The photographer was interviewed, and the track inspected, before any trains were allowed to proceed. No charges were laid.

No JR personnel were physically harmed. No JR passengers were physically harmed, nor were any put "in harm's way."

The only person who was in a dangerous situation was the photographer himself. The train operation was suspended so the photographer's individual and the railway's general safety could be assured.

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Posted in: What do foreigners find strange about Japan? NTV finds out See in context

Anyway, what this foreigner finds most "strange" about Japan is the Japanese appear to me to be more British in their behaviour, mannerisms and world-view than even the British are.

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Posted in: What do foreigners find strange about Japan? NTV finds out See in context

The linked video at the heart of this story is dated September 2011, and it's interesting that they seemed to only find foreign "tourists" who were fluent speakers of Japanese.

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Posted in: Jetstar Japan to start domestic flights in July See in context

It will be interesting to see how this pans out.

My main experience with Jetstar is their Coolangatta (Gold-Coast) to Osaka service and, apart from one flight that was cancelled nine hours before scheduled departure (and the resulting hassle to persuade the Jetstar myrmidon to refund my Osaka-Coolangatta flight as well as the Coolangatta-Osaka flight) and their bizarre practice now of only accepting credit cards as payment for in-flight service (on a service to a country where credit cards are not a commonplace possession), they seem to be reasonably good. Their timekeeping is acceptable for an international airline, their cabins are well-presented and the flight attendants are professional and courteous in their behaviour.

But it's best to buy your in-flight meals at the air terminal before boarding, and to take your own headphones instead of paying 400 yen for the Jetstar headphones.

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Posted in: Confrontation See in context

Currently, whaling is practiced by Canada, the Faeroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland, Indonesia, Japan, Norway, Russia, St Vincents & Grenadine Islands, and The United States of America.

Canada, the Faeroes, Greenland, Indonesia, St Vincents and the USA each have a very small quota of a specific whale species that is hunted by indigenous groups for cultural reasons.

Iceland and Norway have commercial whaling fleets.

Russia and Japan have fleets for scientific purposes.

Iceland only has shore-based whaling, and has an annual quota of nine fin whales and 30 minke whales. The fin whales are caught for export to Japan, whilst the minkes are caught for domestic consumption.

Norway has a deepwater fleet that operates in the North Atlantic, and since resuming commercial whaling in 1993 has only pursued the minke whale. Their maximum catch in any year was 646 whales, and they have never met their annual quota.

Russia's Chutoka Autonomous Okrug has an annual quota of up to 140 Gray Whales in the NE Pacific.

And Japan maintains a deepwater whaling fleet that is at least as large as that of the commercial whaling nations' individual fleets, and which catches more whales per year than both Norway and Iceland combined. Unlike the commercial whaling fleet, Japan's scientific whaling fleet also regularly intrudes into other nations' Exclusive Economic Zones during the course of their annual hunt.

One could, if one was so inclined, argue that Japan ought to allow China, Taiwan, North Korea and South Korea free reign to sail and fish unhindered and unmolested within Japan's Exclusive Economic Zone -- as long as those nations paint "RESEARCH" on the hulls of their fishing fleets.

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Posted in: Bullet train service disrupted by train enthusiast taking photos See in context


Explains a lot

Yes, it does. It explains that I have a better knowledge of this subject than you apparently do.

As for your other points: to reply to them would stray too much from the topic.

The moderator mentioned that the delay was due to the enthusiastic photographer being interviewed and a physical track inspection had to be done to ensure trains would be able to operate safely over the track. On the Tokaido line, the Shinkansen travel at up to 270km/h. If I remember correctly, the speed for the section between Nagoya and Gifu-Hashima is one of the 270km/h sections. The nose-cone of the trains is rather fragile and is little more than a streamlined fibreglass shroud over a concealed coupler. A collision at speed with a relatively small piece of debris on the track could prove disastrous, so there had to be a detailed physical inspection of the track (which would have involved people walking the track) before the next train could run.

The Shinkansen is a very expensive system to operate. The corridor from Tokyo to Hakata is nearly 1,200km long, and is a very secure rail corridor. Someone mentioned the "Doctor Yellow" train, which runs the length of the network constantly, inspecting the track for faults. If the crew on "Dr Yellow" locate something which might become a fault six months later, then that is put on the job-card for the maintenance workers who work on the track every night from midnight to 6am (there are over 3,000 who work every night on the 550km stretch between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka) to repair that night.

Usually, track repairs result in a temporary speed restriction over the piece of track that has just been repaired, so trains for the next month or so have to slow down to anywhere between 15km/h and 40km/h whilst they travel over the repaired track.

That doesn't happen with the Shinkansen, though. The first scheduled train the next day, after the track has been repaired, travels over it at normal speed (270km/h Tokaido, 300km/h for the Sanyo line).

And the fences protecting the corridor are as substantial as those you'd find around a sensitive military base or around a high-security prison. Even a minor breach of these fences, as in the case here of an overenthusiastic photographer leaning over the fence, is taken seriously.

Sure, the photographer wasn't fined or charged. He was just given a comprehensive telling-off. Nevertheless, the company did have to make sure that the track was safe for travel before they let the next train through.

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Posted in: 'Gurokawa' (grotesquely cute) fashion styles See in context

@ Juan Carlos Barbosa Padilla:

This makes me remember an anime where a goddess went to live with a boy

Ah! Is that the anime where the three Norse goddesses (who also appeared as the "wierd sisters" in the opening scenes of Macbeth ("Fair is foul, and foul is fair; Hover through fog and filthy air") Urd, Verthandi and Skuld all live in a Buddhist Temple with a Japanese university student with whom Verthandi fell in love -- even though all the uni student wanted to do was order a pizza?

@ AmericanForeigner:

I take it that it has been a long, long time since you have watched American cartoons.

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Posted in: Bullet train service disrupted by train enthusiast taking photos See in context

By how I read the story, kyushugrl84, the photographer was not on the train corridor, but was leaning over the boundary fence in a manner that caused a JR Tokai worker concern for his safety.

The article says that he was cautioned but not charged (or fined).

That was probably sufficient as punishment. Sure, some passengers might have been rejected for jobs or failed exams because their train was delayed -- but will fining the photographer get those people those jobs or suddenly get them to pass the exam? And being cautioned (most likely in quite strong terms) has probably shamed the poor bloke into not going to such extremes again.

I was in Japan last week, and on 6, 7, 8, and 9 of February all westbound Shinkansen through Okayama were running about 30 minutes late. I assumed the reason might have been due to weather (snow) conditions somewhere between Kyoto and Tokyo. To me, it was just a slight annoyance (the beloved went cranky at me because she was waiting for 40 minutes outside Fukuyama Station with one boisterous child and one over-tired child), but to others it might have been a considerable inconvenience. But in the case of an "act of God" (like a snowstorm), who does JR apply to for recompense?

On a personal note, I drive trains in Australia. Just before Christmas, we encountered a train-spotter taking photos of our rather grubby-looking coal train as it went past at 60km/h. The train-spotter wasn't hanging over a fence -- he was standing in the middle of the other track, with his back to any approaching trains (on a stretch of track where the trains are doing up to 80km/h).

There was no point in reporting this idiot, as he would have been back in his car and long gone before the police arrived.

We saw him again, about 60km later, standing at a level crossing and on the ballast of our track as we went past at 60km/h. The only more dangerous place to stand would be in the middle of the track.

My colleague that day and I discussed this idiot, and we both agreed that the serious rail otaku know enough about the object of their affection to know not to stand in such a suicidal spot.

My objection was, though, to the posters here whose point was "ha, ha, ha, {guffaw}. What an idiot, taking pictures of trains!!!" I'd be curious to know what those people's hobbies are, and if they would appreciate others laughing at them for pursuing those hobbies.

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Posted in: Bullet train service disrupted by train enthusiast taking photos See in context

@ tmarie:

Yes, it is a train.

And mrsynik has a point. Who are you to sit in judgement over what other people do and do not like?

We all have hobbies and specific interests that, to outsiders might appear to be strange, ludicrous or bizarre.

But if it is a hobby or interest that doesn't cause harm to others (e.g. child porn) or involves sadistic cruelty to people or animals (e.g. dog-fighting), then what is wrong with it?

The man in the story likes taking photos of trains. To him, it might be something that makes his voyage through this veil of sorrows that we know as "life" a little more bearable.

The same could be said of attending a football match, or a baseball match (which is more acceptable socially), or collecting postage stamps or Maneki Neko statues.

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Posted in: Why do Japanese change their attitude when they communicate with foreigners? See in context


Fact is, most foreigners in Japan at any time are tourists on holidays.

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Posted in: GPS is the traveler's enemy See in context

We were on Innoshima, and heading back to Fukuyama.

There is a really big bridge that connects Innoshima to the next island, and we had crossed it already to get to Innoshima.

But the beloved insisted I follow the GPS directions, so we went to a ferry terminal 2km west of the bridge where we started.

The ferry sailed west -- adding about 50km to our journey.

If it were up to me, we would have done a U-turn and went back to the bridge, but the beloved reprogrammed her GPS to take us to the bridge.

And it did -- eventually.

After we drove around all of Innoshima.

In my country's (Australia's) history, the first recorded European to sail around Australia was Matthew Flinders.

The beloved's in-car GPS is now called "Matthew Flinders", because it has a great affection and desire for circumnavigating islands.

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Posted in: Howzat!? Tochigi city has cricket aspirations See in context

**Personally, I'm not a fan of T20, but...

T20 and 50-overs games (both being single-innings matches), IMO opinion, would probably be the way to go to quickly popularise cricket in new territory and to a new audience.

Yes, allow the crowd onto the ground for a barbecue during the changeover period.

And if one side gets out really quickly and the match finishes in about half the allotted time, then pick 22 willing spectators at random from the crowd and ask them to play a game of cricket for the rest of the day.

Having grown up next-door to what was once one of the great cricketing grounds (Woolloongabba - site of the first-ever Tied Test), I'd be curious to see Sano's "Cricket Matsuri" next summer.

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Posted in: How foreigners’ daily lives change when they live in Japan See in context

My Japanese is really, really bad, cleo. Such is the dilemma of trying to learn a new language when one is on the downhill side of one's 45th birthday.

Back to the topic: although I've never actually lived in Japan, my frequent trips have changed me rather a bit.

I now am not so accepting of poor service when not in Japan.

I work as a train driver in Australia. Now, I physically point, gunslinger-fashion, at all signals that my train is approaching. My colleagues all think it is rather strange behaviour -- but at least I don't wear white cotton gloves (yet).

I always bow when in shops, wherever I am.

I will occasionally say "はい!” instead of "yes."

I have to check myself from yelling out "すみません!” when I am in a cafe in Australia.

And I now always take my used dishes, plates &c. back to the cafe's counter before I leave. This habit also gets me surprised looks from the cafe staff.

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