Saturday, April 14, 2007

Sunday April 15, 2:18 p.m.

Well, that little dinner at Spyros last night made me think a lot. First observation: for a guy who's earned a reputation for being a stickler for details to an anal degree, Speedy is ironically not the most prompt person in the world. He usually comes 10-15 minutes later than he promises and I was left waiting in the genkan for another number of minutes as he had to get every little thing shut down.

As for Spyros in Roppongi, I'd give it a fairly good grade. There was quite a large group for this dinner outing, the second in Speedy's master plan to expose his friends to fine dining. We had the 3,150-yen course which consisted of all the basics in Greek cuisine. As a long-lived Torontonian, I could say that I've had the real stuff back home on the Danforth at places like Omonia, Pappa's Grill and, of course, Mr. Greek. The souvlaki was quite tasty although not as big as the Toronto version (no surprise there), as was the saganaki...the famous flamin' cheese thanks to some flambe action via a well-placed spurt of ouzo. However, the chefs kept that form of entertainment out of their saganaki...just came out on a plate with some olive oil dashed on it. The taramosalata wasn't on the list so a fellow who was sitting beside me and I decided to try it out a la carte. Hm...the bowl that arrived contained what seemed like tarako in an oily emulsion....not the greatest. In fact, I'd probably say that Spyros' fare was good for Greek in Tokyo but not great. The Danforth has nothing to worry about from this part of Asia. Mind you, the dessert came out quite nicely. The baklava usually comes out in Toronto as this huge hunk of supersweet pastry, but the Japanese propensity for conservative sizes won out and the Spyros version was much easier to handle. It was an expensive night, though, once again. Despite the 3,000-yen price tag on the course, a bunch of us had cocktails and other forms of alcohol along with any other a la carte stuff which tacked on another 100% onto the final bill. OUCH! Not blamin' the establishment or Speedy for that at all, but I think Spyros will be my final outing with Speedy and his gang. Just can't really rationalize paying over 6,000 yen for dinner.

There were a couple of other Speedy regulars sitting at the table across from us. I've been in their doghouse for some months now. Speedy doesn't seem to be aware of it and I'm not going to drag him into our private little war. I can imagine what soured the ladies on me. Several months back, I took them and a couple of others to the original Baker Bounce hamburger shop in Setagaya Ward to introduce them to what real hamburgers were all about. Apparently, during our meal, I may have said something inappropriate in the wrong politeness register. Well, since then, they've turned off me faster than warp speed. At the dinner last night, the more vocal of the pair snapped her neck away from me when she made inadvertent eye contact with me. The cold shoulder treatment is precise and quick here. I've not bothered to apologize to them since my instinct has told me that it would be useless. I've had to mediate a couple of similar situations between students and teachers in the past. Though they seemed to have gone well, one lady has actually remained quite standoffish toward the teacher even now. Forgiveness is strictly a Christian conceit in this country of just 1% Christians.

But my immediate dinner companions were quite an amiable lot. The Admin was the other staff member at my table, and she thoroughly enjoyed wining and dining according to the similarity in skin tone between her and her red shirt. The lady across from me was definitely someone who was very confident and comfortable in her own skin; she was either around my age or slightly older but she was dressed like a casual supermodel half her age. Va-va-va-voom, as they used to say. And she had more than a passing resemblance to a tarento, Tamao Sato, but with a lot more poise and intelligence.

As I said, the dinner last night did make me think a lot. For one thing, don't go to these things anymore. For another, it did make me think about the almost soap operatic nature of my career. Students and other folks seem to come and go like various characters in "General Hospital". After what seemed to be nearly weekly lunches with The Madame and frequent outings with MB and Skippy, all three have gone off of my social radar. I've got a feeling though that Skippy will pop in again for another late Spring burst. I just wonder if other folks like Jazz Buddy and The Stick have permanently left the show.

Anyways, this morning, as I still digested the last of my Greek dinner, I went off to meet Tully and The Coffeemaker. The Coffeemaker was looking quite exhausted since she had to take part in some art fair at Tokyo International Forum all day yesterday and she had deadlines in her regular job. Looks like she's getting together with The Barmaiden fairly soon to concoct another reunion with their old classmates.

For lunch, I just went to Sozaiya, a so-called healthy cooked meal store in Ichigaya Station. The prices match the high quality of the ingredients but my stomach would brook no argument from my economy-oriented mind, so in I went. The place has been there for several years, certainly during my years at the ol' school; I would get something there about once a week. When I'd first started at the ol' school a decade back, there used to be a Lotteria's fast food shop. In fact, the entire station was more for the salaryman set. Upstairs was a huge Kirin City izakaya franchise. Now, it's a To The Herbs Italian restaurant and a Starbucks.

I took the Sobu Line to Akihabara and went over to that imported DVD shop on the 2nd floor of the building across from JR Akihabara. I was looking for that copy of "Mishima" for SIL. The 1985 movie starring Ken Ogata as the titular right-wing zealot and author has been banned from these shores by Yukio Mishima's widow until her death. I thought the store had pulled a coup of some sort but as it turned out as I saw the sign for the movie, there was a string of kanji basically saying that it can't be supplied. Well, I'll just have to tell SIL the bad news.

As we approach Golden Week with its usual nightmarish 70-km traffic jams and overcrowded airports and train stations, I'm starting to wonder about what this life of mine has been all about all these years. It seems that I'm getting into some sort of time loop, repeating the same ol' things. The Lady mentioned last week all of a sudden that I would be rich in about 4 years. I was kinda taken aback by that comment. It would be nice if that were would certainly kick start something.
Saturday April 14, 5:07 p.m.

It's been a fairly languid few days. But the classes on Thursday were kinda finding their comfort zones. The Dentist's second lesson went OK but she's a bit of an old-world type despite her relative ability in English. She gets kinda embarrassed rather easily, and in fact, she even shut the inner door on us when she was on her way out since she didn't want anyone to see her transfer her tootsies from slippers to shoes....I guess the foot fetishists in all of us were sorely disappointed.

As for The Carolinan, most of the lesson was gab about what her immediate future will look like. She did pass her accounting exam with flying colours, so it was a case of now what? She's not all that thrilled with her job but she finally got her status as a full employee with all of the benefits, so she's at a bit of a crossroads. Then, I found out from BC that she quit her job after only 3 months. Ouch! That could also mean her time with me will be fairly short.

Friday turned out to be a day off since Jolly never called back. I think he's out the door as far as I'm concerned. So it was nice to not worry about students and lessons for at least 24 hours. Just cleaned and bought stuff for cooking. I even had time to watch "Spiderman 2" on DVD as a bit of prep work for the upcoming "Spiderman 3" in a couple of weeks. Yup, I'd probably say that Spiderman series is the best superhero movie series for right now. Superman is flawless, and Batman has got a mansion & butler along with his psychosis. Peter Parker is somebody we can all relate to.

Well, it's another near-summer day. It's 25 C out there and darn sunny. Can't be beat. Just had the Manhattanite for her third lesson. Pretty low but she's got heart. In about half an hour, Speedy and I are headed out the door to Roppongi for that dinner at Spyros, the Greek restaurant. It will be my first time for Greek in this country. The fare there will be under pressure to match my memories on The Danforth in Toronto.

It wasn't exactly Mikhail Gorbachev suddenly getting out of his limo in Manhattan and shaking hands with the New York masses in a grand gesture of glasnost, but Chinese Premier Wen did his best for Sino-Japanese diplomacy over the past few days by visiting Kyoto for a tea ceremony and playing a bit of baseball with a nearby high school baseball team. Every little bit helps...

I guess the United States has been caught up in all that Don Imus career implosion. To give in my two yen worth, I think that the guy got his just desserts and I hope that his professional demise will give way to some dialogue on how people oughta address each other. But I have a sneaking suspicion that this isn't the beginning of some paradigm shift but just another swing of the pendulum, culturally speaking. There's a chance that in a few years, people may be crying out censorship instead. As for Japan, we really don't have that type of beast known as the shock jock...most likely because radio is in a grand malaise here.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Thursday April 12, 3:47 p.m.

I did forget to mention one thing that I came across in the newspaper this morning. Apparently, the Japanese are the most prolific bloggers in the world. I think the huge I-community of Mixi has contributed to that fact. Ironically, my time in there was pretty brief. Just never caught on with me. I much rather prefer this court. I'm not surprised at this revelation. The Japanese are traditionally still not all that open with their feelings, so having this field to put out their thoughts in relative anonymity has been a godsend.
Thursday April 12, 3:24 p.m.

Another three-pack today. The Dentist here and then The Carolinan and BC later tonight. Glad that the weather is so nice today.

Well, Dice-K lost his home opener at Fenway against the Seattle Mariners tonight but that's not what the Japanese media were looking for. They were focused like a laser beam on the titanic battle of wits and skills between The Unstoppable Force (that would be Ichiro) and The Immovable Object (Matsuzaka). Ichiro couldn't get anything off the 26-year-old wunderkind. It would seem that Boston's newest hero won the battle but lost the war...Boston beat Seattle 3-0. Still, over here in Japan, the sports journos aren't interested in Major League Baseball...they may protest my opinion but they are really just interested in their fellow citizens in the MLB. You can be assured that by dinner news time, all the stations will be crowing about The Battle of Godzilla....sorry, that would be Hideki Matsui, wouldn't it?...let's say Gamera vs. Rodan...and oh, by the way, Dice-K lost the game 3-0 (which will be said under the collective breath of the sportscasters and just before the cutaway to commercial). The fact that the real story in Boston, at least for the journalists in the US, was that the real winner for Seattle was their pitcher Hernandez who had taken a no-hitter into the 8th inning, means nothing. I must admit that I was rolling my eyes a bit at the coverage but I also know that this is just Japanese psychology...the natives (or I should just say the media) here have an almost pathological need to know how their fellow men are perceived in the West.

The baseball story came ahead of Chinese Premier Wen's historic address to the Japanese Diet this morning. It was all very well stage-managed and pleasant. I think it was rather appropriate that the address played second banana to Matsuzaka, though, since politics does have that veneer of phoniness while the battle in baseball is all very real...Vaseline under the cap aside. However, I am hoping that Wen and Abe can bring about a good thaw to Sino-Japanese relations, certainly by Olympic time.

The Dentist has just arrived, a good 20 minutes ahead of schedule. Well, I can just go on in but I don't want to set any precedents so I'll just start at about 3:50.
Wednesday April 11, 8:31 p.m.

And thus we've come to the end of another teaching day. It's always nice to end on a happy note which is what 001's lessons usually amount to. The same running gags abounded: her drinking like a fish versus my devouring habits. She had another one of those onsen trips with her co-workers up in Tochigi Prefecture over the weekend. It must be nice to be able to go on those once in a while. I don't have those opportunities anymore since I don't belong in a typical company and the friends surrounding aren't exactly the onsen-going least, not together.

I introduced 001 to the wonders of the Wikipedia, something that she'd never heard of before. Since we were on the topic, I first got her to Shokotan, the otaku-cum-tarento who has been having her 15 months of fame on Japanese TV. Actually her name is Shoko Nakagawa, a 21-year-old pixie of a woman who liberally wears her otakuness on her puffy sleeve. In appearance, she has the looks of the run-of-the-mill gravura idol (pin-up girl) and has indulged that part of the industry with some bikini pics but she's also become famous for her love of anime, manga and cosplay. She's been on a number of the variety shows exhorting her love for all things Akiba while even releasing some treacly pop confections. I'd actually seen her for the first time on a late-night program with comedic duo Downtown which involved panelists coming up with comic strip conclusions to pictures. Shokotan also has an eye for illustrating some pretty harsh drawings. Right now, she has her own little visual blog on Tuesday nights on SkyPerfect's Music On TV channel in which she speaks from her own "bedroom" on all sorts of stuff. Kinda wonder if she's gonna become a permanent part of the TV landscape or whether she'll end up like The Pirates or The Guitar Samurai.

However, the rain seems to have stopped and I'm fairly famished so I'm ready to try some of that China Quick fare now. I'm not in any particular hurry since I won't be having my next class until 4 tomorrow with the first official lesson for The Dentist. She was the one last week whose model lesson nearly self-destructed due to misunderstanding on mine and The Admin's part. So I am quite grateful that I managed to pull that one out of the fire.

I take it that Shintaro Ishihara hasn't been invited to any official dinner for Chinese President Wen tonight with PM Abe. The president is in town trying to shore up relations with his counterpart after a couple of years of tension. Apparently, things have gotten off to a good start; a trade accord was signed just before Wen left Beijing.
Wednesday April 11, 5:10 p.m.

Once again, I came up from the station near Speedy's for the second week in a row to a wall of rain. However, I was armed with my collapsible umbrella so no worries. Over here, one has gotta be ready for all weather conditions. My black bag even has its own socket for such brolleys. Earlier in the day, I decided to go for The Golden Arches, the somewhat cheaper and less healthier alternative, since China Quick was more China Slow last week in terms of service. Perhaps I still should've chosen the latter since the long ride to 002's neck of the woods still got me there a full hour before her lesson. I did a bit of walking around the neighbourhood and discovered that Yawata Station is just a corner away from the main drag toward JR Moto-Yawata Station. Good to know for later commutes. I also discovered a book/CD shop at the corner so at least I now have a browsing alternative. I ended up looking through a magazine which was doing a major retrospective on the year 1977. Ahhh...interesting to see what was hot back then: big hair, striped shirts and Kenji Sawada. I was surprised not to see anything on "Star Wars" but I guess the editors were keeping things strictly within Japan.

As for 002, she was giddily happy as usual. She asked me to decipher her Toronto host mother's handwriting in her letter. I had no problems with it since I tend to also write in unintentional code. 002 and I also spoke of next Saturday's home party with the usual suspects. It'll be sushi this time around.

Then it was back on the trains again for the ride back to the other side of Tokyo. It's a bit of a haul but at least I've been able to catch up on the sleep that I'd missed from waking up early on Wednesdays. The safety of the Tokyo subways is something that I'll never take for granted. Knock on wood, we'll never have another Aum Shinrikyo attack.

Some stuff on the e-mail. Looks like BC is good to go for tomorrow night. Her friend, The Carolinan, seems to be out on business but I think she'll be OK as well. Her sister, The New Yorker will be showing up at the end of the month. So, it looks like I won't be experiencing any more three-packs on alternating Thursdays this month. Tully and The Coffeemaker have re-scheduled their lesson for Sunday instead of Saturday so I can be a bit more leisurely heading over to Speedy's to teach The Manhattanite and The Cooking Teacher. Still haven't heard anything from The Polynesian since my small blowup at her for standing me up a few weeks ago.

DTE is back in town. But it looks like it might be a bit of a trick to get a day for the two of us to get together for lunch or coffee. Movie Buddy is seeing her tomorrow night for dinner in Shibuya but of course, I'm committed to lessons then. I've thrown her a suggestion for Friday afternoon since it looks like I'll be free and clear...provided that Jolly doesn't decide to finally show up for a lesson at the juku. If she's cool with it, I may take her to Genkatsu in Ginza.

Newswise, it hasn't been too busy here now that the elections have been done and Ichi The Killer is still at large. His ugly mug is now posted on the windows of the neighbourhood convenience stores. The only news of note I've seen in the last couple of days has been the crash of that helicopter in the Japan Alps.

But mind you, the Dice-K Matsuzaka Media Express has been rolling along like wildfire. The Japanese journos have been laying siege to The Green Monster in Boston for the last couple of days in anticipation of Dice's first pitching performance at Fenway today or tomorrow. Just wondering how the J-media has been handling the Bostonian accent.

I listened to that double-CD pack of Yumi Matsutoya that I'd bought last week. Then I took a look at good ol' Wikipedia to see what they had on the veteran J-Pop lady. One interesting point I found was that her recognizable nickname of "Yuming" was planted on her by "...her Chinese lover" back in her teens. As I say in my Johnny Carson voice, I did not know that. It also mentioned that most music critics consider her early works, when she was known as Yumi Arai, as her best stuff. I can go along with that opinion. The double-CD pack, "Seasons and Colours" has a real mixture of her songs from the 70s, 80s, 90s and 00s. So when I hear her really old stuff with the songs from the last few years, I could really tell the difference of her somewhat controversial voice. Her pipes of the 70s were definitely more suited for the more languid folk tunes; she simply doesn't own a voice that can take a huge range like a Mariah or Whitney. Sometimes, when I hear her recent songs, I almost cringe when I listen to her try to reach those higher notes. Still, critics aside, I think there were quite a few tunes after her conversion to straight pop (circa 1978) that merit accolades. It's just when she entered the late 90s that the well has started to go somewhat dry although a few tunes over the last decade did make the media spotlight via commercials or TV dramas.

The Wikipedia entry on Yuming is pretty good (though it does scream for a good proofreader; I'm here whenever you need me) but it doesn't go into the different stages of her musical growth in terms of instrumentation and pop stylings. I can offer some insight there. Her 70s compositions, such as "Rouge no Dengon" (from Hayao Miyazaki's "Kiki's Delivery Service") that she'd written as Yumi Arai sound almost country-folk along the lines of a Carole King. It is during this time that Yuming sounded most like the legendary American singer. What also brought some of that country music feel to her earlier works was that a steel pedal guitar was often used as part of the band.

After Yuming married her producer, Masataka Matsutoya, she went into a more poppier, uptempo mode. Out went the steel pedal and in came more conventional electric guitar and occasionally more disco strings. The synths started playing more of a role when she made her way into the 80s. Also, the voice started getting that reedier, Buffy Ste.-Marie timbre from about that time that made some of my friends run away from her. Still, I think two albums stand out during that time in terms of pure pop pleasure. One is "No Side" (1984) which came with a number of hits such as "Blizzard" and "Downtown Boy"...quite away from folk-driven Yumi Arai. And the other is "Love Wars" (1989). I'd heard Yuming's tunes for some years previously but this was my first album purchase of hers. She had often been referred to as a purveyor of that West Coast summery sound. Well, "Love Wars" is probably the best example of that; I don't think there was a single entry in that album that missed the mark with the American R&B studio musicians. The turn of that decade kinda saw Yuming turn to this group of horns and synths as her backup band. Apparently, Masataka looked upon it with some regret according to Wiki but I think "Love Wars" and the next release "The Gates of Heaven" are solid efforts.

But once she started entering the 90s, her albums didn't seem to catch me so much with stuff. It was more of a case of one big hit surrounded by other unknown and uncatchy tunes in her releases...basically an overstuffed single. And so we're back to the mid-00's. Her last new album, "A Girl in Summer" has a couple of tunes I like, one which has become the jingle for the JR Suica Card commercials. She'll probably keep on releasing new albums once every couple of years while the various compilations will pad the dry spells for her die-hard fans.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Wednesday April 10, 11:32 a.m.

Kinda hopping right now at the school. Just finished my lesson with The Nurse; happily, she's signing up for more of them...always a good ego boost. The Admin is also fielding calls while Speedy is teaching class. And I've gotta get headed on out in the next few minutes to teach 002. Yes, it's yet another hump day with my multiple crosstown journeys. Luckily, though, it shouldn't be too bad next week since The Nurse will be coming on Tuesday afternoon instead.

Yesterday was a bit of a custom-fit day in that the students that have done well by me showed up while the ones that are rather sporadic canned out. I had a mini-Beehive with just Mrs. Jade, Mrs. Perth and Mrs. Alp, and at the juku, it was Chip N' Dale, Seven and Mrs. Mild. Neither Jolly nor The Siberian showed up. I've got a feeling that Jolly's days with us are numbered.

Anyways, I'm outta here...

Monday, April 09, 2007

Monday April 9, 7:40 p.m.

Now that I got my Ishihara rant out of my system (although not totally as you'll read soon), I can talk about the rest of the weekend. I got to meet The Wild Thing, The Chipmunk with her little kid and Alpha at Shimbashi Station for our little lunch at TGIFridays in Ginza. The waiter who greeted us there seemed so somnabulent that I almost mistook him for Ichi The Killer. However, I was a much wiser person after my two trips to the Shinagawa branch last week and a few years ago. I warned everyone off the grilled meat stuff (spareribs and steaks), and we settled for the much tastier appetizers such as calamari, fish n' chips and the Three For All. We even had enough room for dessert. It goes to show that time in Toronto has made our stomachs quite pliant, although Omega finally had to give up a third of her Warm Apple Crisp to me.

The Chipmunk had to leave a bit early since her little son was starting to act up a bit, so the three of us just walked on the main street of the Ginza which was closed off for the usual hokoten Sunday. We checked out a couple of bookstores since The Wild Thing was searching for some rather serious tome. One of them, Fukaya, had some sort of media event with yet another cute young lady shilling her latest photobook. Not surprisingly, the front of the store was swarming with middle-aged otaku with large-lensed cameras (could be compensating for something). We tried another bookstore near the main intersection, the local branch of Book 1st, but nada. So we kept on walking down the main drag; I showed Omega and The Wild Thing the famed Genkatsu, the home of the 25-layer tonkatsu steak, so both of them mentally put that into their to-eat lists. We turned the corner south to find a coffeehouse. Starbucks and Seattle's Best Coffee were unsurprisingly filled to the gills so we walked further south across another major street before deciding on smoky Doutors. But there weren't too many people there so the smog was kept to a minimum.

We spent another 40 minutes just gabbing away. Of course, it was inevitable that The Wild Thing would go into one of his long soapbox oratories about politics or the economy. But Omega, The Chipmunk and I have known the man for a very long time (in my case, 20 years) so we could all take it pretty well, but I know when enough is enough so when 5 o'clock struck, I suggested an adjournment and we went back out. We ended up hanging about the southeast corner of the main intersection for another 5 minutes since we got into another conversation topic but the added coffee and earlier foodstuffs finally rang alarm bells via Nature, so I had to politely but clearly bow out and run for the nearest washroom in Mitsukoshi. I actually broke my own rule and risked going to one of the lower floors; usually, the chances of unoccupied toilets on a Sunday especially were much greater on the higher floors but I decided to try out the 3rd floor. I struck it rich.

This morning has been pleasantly cool, a nice balance of the scales since last week's freak winter storm. Had my usual suspects. The Class Act half-jokingly admonished me for bringing up the topic of Shintaro Ishihara's relatively easy win last night. They're definitely no fans of the man. SIL also said as much in her lesson. And then The Part-Timer pretty much said it all when she said that there really was no viable choice other than Ishihara when compared to the other candidates. As usual, Dr. Nakamatsu, the crackpot inventor emiritus, had thrown his hat into the ring and boasted that his inventions would save Tokyo. Well, I would've just blown him off just like that but I do remember that he is the one who invented the floppy disc, that piece of plastic and magnetic tape that was the de rigeur storehouse for data before the CD-ROM arrived.

Well, I've got another 90 minutes here so I'll be starting up the curricula stuff again since Speedy has shown me the light. Then I'll just head on home in the rain.
Monday April 9, 5:12 p.m.

Ah, I think my luck may be rather good this week (despite the presence of the dreaded Friday the 13th this week). I just found out from the Admin that that low-as-you-can-go TOEIC student never called back to re-schedule for a class tonight. As much as I usually feel bad when a client goes away dissatisfied, I'll have to admit that I'm not too sorry about this one. Despite what Speedy might say, this student shouldn't even be allowed anywhere near a TOEIC test until he gets some basics under his belt. And despite the fact that I lost 5,000 yen in potential income because of his non-appearance, I actually got the same amount in cash from the Admin herself for helping proofread some documents for her husband.

However, although the luck is good, it isn't perfect. For one thing, Shintaro Ishihara is still the Governor of Tokyo. It really was no surprise...the man was expected to get his third term in City Hall...ahhh, sorry, Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. Ishihara won by a pretty good margin but Mr. Asano, the former governor of Miyagi Prefecture, kept it from being a total landslide. But was there even some begrudging sense of congratulations from Asano, or the third-place finisher, slightly nuts architect Kurokawa? Not at least, not according to the stuff I saw on Tokudane, the Fuji-TV morning wide show today. All 3 men appeared on the show...not together but one after the other. Asano kept it rather polite though the disappointment wasn't hard to detect, but Kurokawa started blasting away at his two rivals as soon as the cameras trained on him while host, Mr. Ogura, and his panelists tittered away uncomfortably. I don't think even the US political debates have seen politicians call each other out-and-out liars and idiots. No love lost there.

Some observations on this election. Amazingly enough, the voter turnout was about 54%, a full 10% more than last time...which translates to a little over 1 million folks who decided to come to the booths who didn't four years ago. And while I was watching the exit polls on NHK last night, it seems as if it was a clean sweep for Ishihara in all age categories from 20s to 60s; he dominated them.

While Ishihara can savor his victory again, it should be noted that voters didn't bring him into the fold again because they necessarily liked him or his policies. It was because the opposition was so unoriginal in their campaigns which basically amounted to "Let's beat up on the Governor". None of them could come up with anything good to topple the incumbent's quixotic attempt to bring the 2016 Olympics to his fiefdom. It was a case of "better the Devil you know than the Devil you don't". Some of the folks that had been interviewed on the street this morning merely commented that the other politicians just didn't provide anything of substance. Ishihara heard all this and when asked to comment, he gloriously bleated that it proved that his victory was complete. Uh-huh. I read one person's reason behind his choice of the xenophobe, and he just remarked that though Ishihara did have some scandals, the governor wasn't exactly terrible, either. Hardly resounding endorsements. But as The Japan Times noted, Ishihara's re-election also reflects the resurgent right wing in Japan, and I've got a sneaking suspicion that the governor is stating out loud what a lot of folks feel privately but won't say publicly.

So, now Governor Ishihara feels that he has a mandate to plow ahead and get his Olympics (and let's be honest's his Olympics, not anyone else's), although if the trends hold true, it'll mean vacuuming more tax money from each of us for puffed-up security, civil infrastructure and Olympic facilities. Believe me, not a lot of folks here are too keen to get The Games in this burg. For another thing, we have nothing left to prove. We are already a world-class city. When Tokyo got the Olympics in 1964, it was important as an event since it was a chance for Japan to be let into the pantheon of civilized countries after almost 20 years of coming back from the ashes. I've got another sneaking suspicion that Ishihara wants the Games so bad so that he can trump his arch enemy China after their Games next year.

However, I think there is some hope in that Tokyo will most likely not be the choice since by 2016, the US will not have had a Summer Games for 20 years, and at this time, since the US has a lot of pull when it comes to the IOC, perhaps New York City may get the brass ring. I'm rather hoping so.