Shortly after finding out I’d be teaching in Japan post-college, a friend and I got to talking about a subject near and dear to both of us…McDonald’s. The conversation went a little like this.

FRIEND: They’ve got some pretty neat items on the Japanese menu.

ME: Yeah?

FRIEND: Yeah, like the McTeriyaki burger. I’ve always wanted to try that. They’ve also got shrimp burgers.

ME: Ugh, that sounds gross.

FRIEND: Sorta. But you’d love the Mega Mac. It’s like a Big Mac…but bigger!

ME: Intriguing. I’ll add it to my “must do” list!

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Thing is, the Mega Mac isn’t even that alien a concept to me. I distinctly remember McDonald’s America featuring an item very similar to it at some time during my childhood, possibly during or after the Monopoly game. My local franchise might have just been a testing ground for slightly unhealthier options…at one point, you could buy a “bucket of fries” which is as terrifying/delicious as it sounds…but being a portly elementary school student riveted by new fast food menu options, I know I tried it. Though, since I also was an immensely picky eater, it probably only had meat and cheese on it.

Still, when I saw the big poster at my local grocery store screaming “MEGA MAC” I knew destiny had come knocking. The Mega Mac…a, uhhhhh, beefed-up Big Mac wherein the number of patties gets doubled to a slightly disturbing four…stands as a classic “crazy Japan” fast-food staple. A quick Google search reveals headlines like “The Mega Mac Is Back!!!”…from 2007. NPR reported about the burger that was “all the rage in Japan” in early 2008. It’s not exclusively the domain of Japan…Malaysia and Australia seem to have had the item available at various times…but most of the Western press on it focuses on the Japanese-ness of it, code for “loogit how weird this is!”

Honestly, the Mega Mac doesn’t seem all that bizarre following the chain’s “Big America” items which struck me as way more twisted. Compared to Burger King’s Meat Monster, the Mega Mac might as well be endorsed by Jenny Craig. Yet it still serves as a meaty metaphor for modern Japanese culture, or at least the chunks of it people in the Western world hear about. I’ve always thought Japan embraces trends from America or Europe, but then takes them to bizarre extremes (see: five-hour lines to buy Krispy Kreme donuts as gifts, a Forever 21 store in Tokyo apparently modeled to be like a nightclub). The Mega Mac serves as an easy symbol of this.

Plus, I was pretty hungry at the time.

Save for the beef increase, everything else about the Mega Mac mirrors a regular Big Mac. Insert the famous jingle here if you fancy viral marketing. Evan upon opening the box, it looks just like a Big Mac, the relatively thin patties failing to intimidate. Once you try to bite into it, though, its size surprise you as one must extend their jaw just a little more than what is comfortable to properly eat this.

Food blog Serious Eats recently wrote that the key to the Big Mac’s trademark taste was the perfect balance of ingredients present in the burger. It’s true – since the majority of McDonald’s food comes off less like quality cooking and more like a science project, the Big Mac is basically the perfect the combination of semi-gross fast-food staples, engineering perfecting what is for better or worse one of the definitive tastes of America. No seriously…live in a foreign country for an extended period of time and, when culinary homesickness kicks in, you can find the Big Mac almost everywhere. A brief escape home even if it’s a bit of a fantasy.

The Mega Mac screws up this balance. While the same amount of lettuce, pickles, semi-melted cheese and sauce remains, the increase in meat results in a burger dominated by beefy taste. Which might be OK with some places but this is McDonald’s and if you’ve ever eaten a plain hamburger you know how bland they are, bland to the point everyone in elementary school speculated they were made out of sawdust/oatmeal/kangaroo. That’s the Mega Mac. Though it promises so much more…it’s like a Big Mac BUT BIGGGGGER…it actually ends up tasting like less.

At least I can cross it off my list.

Expo ’70

May 8, 2011

These are the days that make me want to stay in Japan.

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Golden Week, a virtual seven-day stretch of holidays, just finished up, and for the most part I didn’t do anything special. Just a combination of sitting on my couch trying to write and trying to get people to play Risk. Call it age or call it boredom but I’m just not as keen on traveling as I was one year ago. The only exception came on Tuesday…Japan’s Constitution Day…when I went to the Expo ’70 Commemorative Park.

In 1970, Osaka held the World’s Fair and constructed the grounds for the event just outside of the central part of the city. The people running the event enlisted the artist Taro Okamoto to create a “symbol” for the event, and he came up with the Tower Of The Sun (above). The fair came and went, and after several years the city decided to turn the fairgrounds into a park celebrating the event. They created a sprawling garden and retouched the Tower Of The Sun, opening up the Commemorative Park in the early 1990s. That’s what I visited last week.

Closer, from the back

Closer, from the back

Getting to the park takes a while, requiring a long train ride and a one-stop ride on the Osaka Monorail. But when you exit the station the scene becomes serene. Poking out from a clump of trees is the Tower Of The Sun, bigger than you expect and a bit perplexing to look at. My girlfriend gasped when she saw it from the walkway, shocked at just how huge it really was. She had been inspired by Okamoto’s work in university and, despite going to school in the city, never saw the statue before. It only becomes more impressive the closer you get, able to see the details of the face and the black sun painted on the thing’s backside. We weren’t the only ones sort of in awe of the Tower, as dozens of other gathered near the front of the statue posing for photos, hands outstretched like the Tower itself.

Though the Tower sits as the obvious draw of the park, the city of Osaka made sure to add plenty of other features to justify the 250 yen ticket price. The park features several gardens, including a flower area where we spent a significant amount of time. Fauna of various shapes and colors…though, to be fair, mostly just shades of pink in the Spring…gather near grassy hills and ponds full of disturbingly large koi. Despite the large mixture of toddlers and senior citizens, the area housing all these flowers comes off as deeply tranquil…to the point where photos probably do a better job at capturing the prettiness than my tired words.

Big fish

Big fish

During Golden Week, the park also hosted a giant flea market sponsored by a local radio station. Lines and lines of cars parked on a large field, and people set up ad-hock store fronts selling everything from handmade clothes to old McDonald’s Happy Meal toys. Someone had an old Los Angeles Clippers jersey but I displayed a shocking amount of self-restraint in not purchasing it. This event also featured a slew of food stands and at least two bounce houses full of giggling children. We bypassed the baby-level activities in favor of the Expo ’70 museum.

More flowers

More flowers

The museum did what any museum would do – collected all sorts of artifacts (uniforms, programs, knick-knacks, uhhhhh robots) from Expo ’70 and put them out for the world to stare at. The Tower Of The Sun made up a large portion of the exhibits, including the original “gold face” in its entirety being on display.

Various souvenirs

Various souvenirs

A Model

A Model

"City Of The Future" (?)

"City Of The Future" (?)

Big Face

Big Face

I’m planning on writing a little bit about my Golden Week sometime soon, complete with a handful of photos that are probably more interesting than whatever I can summon up about it. Before then, a little bit of “look at me” promotion!

– Old hat by now, but I ate Burger King Japan’s gross Meat Monster burger and wrote about the experience at Esquire’s website. Not mentioned in story nearly enough – how messy that terrible thing was. Thank goodness for napkins.

– I also wrote a live preview about Osaka musician Oorutaichi for The Japan Times.

Check back soon for lots of photos of flowers!

What lies within???

What lies within???

Back to writing about what I know best…fast food. And this might not even be the last post about it this week…

McDonald’s Mega Teriyaki, the latest gross-out item to adorn the menu, conceals a few secrets worth revealing right away. For one, it isn’t technically a new item – a Google search turns up the news it actually existed in 2007, and is just getting a reissue of sort now. Second, and more pressing, is what actually constitutes a Mega Teriyaki. This ad, which might be old but still basically reflects how this thing is being hyped up at the moment, portrays it as a Big Mac slathered in the titular sauce. Squint and you can see a white sauce, which one would smartly assume as mayonnaise.

Save for the mayonnaise bit, you’d be wrong.

Tell-tale sign number one – it doesn’t come in the familiar Big Mac box, but rather gets fenced around a rather awkward paper barrier. Remove the barrier and look closely and it quickly becomes clear – that isn’t beef. It’s the same sausage-like “meat” used in breakfast staples like the Egg McMuffin or (my personal favorite when I feel no respect for myself) the McGriddle. The same sausage-like substance…covered in teriyaki sauce.

What does it taste like? Well, like teriyaki. A lot of teriyaki. No other flavor manages to wriggle out of this doused mess…sort of a mixed blessing considering it also neutralizes the mayo, but also everything else. Which would be OK if it weren’t such a messy creature. This thing slides around all over the place, dislocating bits of lettuce and threatening to send the sausage-pork-whatever patty flying out. A tricky dinner.

Yet, despite being deeply sloppy, somehow all that teriyaki sauce manages to stay on the the burger! The physics of McDonald’s creeps me out.

Strange Place To Be

April 10, 2011

One month has passed since the devastating Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, and after initial confusion turned to gut-wrenching realization turned to immense sadness turned to even greater, media-induced confusion turned to frantic pleas from relatives to come home turned to “well, at least by some iodine pills” turned to an accepted confusion regarding the workings of nuclear power plants turned to trying to donate whatever spare change one has on their personage when leaving a convenience store, life where I live finally resembles…the same as it ever did. Despite seeing the most significant event in Japanese history since World War II unfold a scant 500 miles away, life in the Kansai region of the country looks just the same now as it did minutes before the initial quake struck.

Of course, things have changed. Donation boxes exist in every store, school and train station around my city. Japanese unity has gotten a big boost, resembling America after 9/11 save for the fact it seems many Japanese people have rallied around the flag despite not trusting a word coming out of the government. Cherry blossom viewing parties have been canceled because, as an older friend explained to me, the Japanese unaffected by these events don’t want to go around having fun while so many up north suffer. Commercials have taken on a sympathetic edge. I’ve read some people are trying to buy Geiger counters off sketchy Russian websites.

Yet for the most part everything seems normal in Nabari. It’s disconcerting to watch videos of waves destroying entire cities and reading stories about the challenges the survivors face before going about your day, especially during the first week when e-mails and Facebook wall postings from people I’ve failed to talk with in years poured in wondering if I was OK. If only I could live broadcast my day, a trip to the gym followed by clothes shopping capped off with a viewing of Jersey Shore. Though even that wouldn’t project just how strange it is to be doing said activities before remembering what’s happened again.

It’s this perpetual normalcy that has stopped me from writing about this event thus far, as I honestly have absolutely nothing to say about it because frankly, I’m lucky as hell. The day everything happened, my train home from work was delayed five minutes. After staring at the footage for five hours, I tried distracting myself by going to the supermarket. My nearby Jusco seemed as normal as it usual does at 8 p.m. on a Friday. No adverse effects, thankfully. The only thing I can really write about what’s happened in Tohoku is the same thing nearly everyone I’ve talked to around town agrees on – it’s weird to be so near yet so far.

I’m not going to even try to make any sweeping generalizations about what any of this stuff means for Japan’s future or some life-affirming message best suited for the “inspirational literature,” all I can really muster is “this is immensely sad and still sorta hard to fathom” and “my life in Mie has barely been altered.” That and it helps put things in perspective while I’m currently debating what to do with my future, a topic that sometimes gets the best of me and causes me to not go to bed until way too late (one such instance of this resulted in this semi-meandering post, written ten minutes before midnight while I try not to get too down about inevitable disappointment while this plays on loop, because it oddly comforts me). So this exists to simply state…my life remains the same, though you think it shouldn’t be so static considering what you see on the news

Hmmmmmmmmmm

March 2, 2011

So this basically never gets updated now. I’ve used this excuse before but I’m perfectly willing to roll it out again – I simply don’t do anything worth writing about. A sentence like that indicates I’ve become a total social zero, content to hole up in my apartment eating grilled cheeses and watching TV shows I can’t understand. Though that’s true, it’s mostly because life in Japan has become…familiar? I’m sure some 20-something character would recoil at the idea of routine life, but I sorta have embraced it. Despite what I wrote for my entrance essay, the main reason I came to Japan was because I craved a new start after college left me emotionally flayed. That newness…that “adventure” to borrow a term oh so many Japan-based bloggers adopt to describe teaching disinterested kids…eventually turned into comfort. Comfort I’m really enjoying and could coast on for awhile.

Naturally, I told my supervisor I wouldn’t be signing up for another year about a month ago. My plan from the get-go was two years and then back to America. Though I fiddled around with the idea of a third year…and at one point regretted doing a second, but that just turned out to be summer-camp blues…I decided I would be doing that just for employment security. I’m already two years behind in my career (THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS) and putting it off any longer just hurts me more. A month ago I felt very confident in my decision, and I retained that feeling all month.

Clearly I would not be writing this if things remained steady. The past two days saw me go from “ho hum feeling fine” to “dear god what have I done?” A friend said I was dealing with leaver’s remorse but that’s not entirely on point – I’m quite ready to leave my job. It’s not bad per se – and given co-worker horror stories shared by others, I work with truly wonderful people – but it’s become kinda a loop. School year starts off great with super geeked-out students, each passing day wittles them down until they aren’t even pretending to try anymore. I don’t blame them – if I had to do all the stuff they have to do, I’d zone out of some American dweebs’ presentation on Groundhog’s Day too. Yet I am a little burnt out of this cycle, and wouldn’t mind something new.

The terror creeps in when I think about everything outside of work. The causer of this dread is legitimately stupid to the point I’m hesitant to share but…it was summer music festivals. Japan has two huge ones, and the initial lineups came out on the first. Looking over them I got excited, but then thought:

“Oh man these both happen around the time my contract ends.”

“I wonder if I could stay with anyone?”

“Geez these are coming up soon.”

“…I only have five months left here.”

Cue panic. Though still a pretty decent length of time, “five months” sounds way shorter than “half a year.” I tell a lot of people one of my goals for the year is to travel more – this is a big lie. I actually want to spend as much time in the place I know so well now as I can, with my friends and people who I’m very close to. I’m scared about finding a job and starting again in America but hey it’s not completely hopeless to find work and I have plenty of great friends in America to make life easier. I’m scared of what I’m leaving behind.

There exists a chance I stumble across work here and stick around. I put this at about two percent unless I wish to keep teaching. On the flip side, something could happen here that makes me want to get the hell out of this place. Who knows. Yet Ill probably end up back in America, doing something I’m not in love with but content with, and hopefully landing in a city with lots of old friends.

And if that happens so be it, that’s how I planned this whole thing from the start. But I’m sure I’ll regret it – even if I tell myself i would have regretted staying. That’s life, I guess.

Any misspellings or grammatical errors above – I blame the iPhone, which I wrote this on.

The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article about McDonald’s Japan’s new line of “Big America” burgers, the main point being that while the American version of the chain attempts to be more healthy, its Japanese counterpart is seeing huge success by going immensely unhealthy. The first installment, the Texas2 Burger, boasted a calorie count of 645. The to-be-released Miami Burger clocks in at about 100 calories less…despite featuring tortilla chips and taco-seasoned beef placed on top of a regular beef patty. Yet it’s the current specialty item available that truly sums up this year-removing trend – the Idaho Burger, featuring a hash brown resting on top of a patty amongst all sorts of less terrifying additions, weighs in at 716 calories.

Besides being an unhealthy monolith, the Idaho Burger manages to do what no other item in the series could do – be a near parody of what people think America is like. The main idea behind the Big America series from the original Texas Burger (ahhhh those were the days) has been “what extravagant foodstuff can we put on a somewhat bigger bacon cheeseburger?” The first four were definitely more intimidating than anything else on the McDonald’s Japan menu…only the Double Quarter Pounder out-disgusts these things, and I wouldn’t wish even my most hated rival to have to eat one – yet also not as bizarre as they could be. Just a little bigger. Yet the four new high-calorie contenders up the game significantly – these slabs of junk food seem completely ridiculous, meat stacked on meat stacked on melted cheese. The most ludicrous of all – the Idaho Burger.

The first thing you notice when you pop open the yellow-and-silver cardboard box encasing the Idaho Burger is the overhang. Originally, the most ballyhooed aspect of the Big America line was the bigger patty, yet none of the previous entries seemed that big to me, an admittedly stereotypical American. The Idaho Burger bun, though, doesn’t come close to covering the beef – the brown-ish circle sticks out awkwardly. It’s actually pretty big, and so unexpected you momentarily forget that you can also see a breakfast hash brown poking out as well.

The Idaho Burger also pulls off another coup – it’s the best Big America burger yet, slightly tastier than the original Texas Burger. Such a distinction comes with one big caveat: it’s also a thoroughly disgusting affair, eating this creation. McDonald’s ultimate strength is their research-laboratory-like ability to create these horribly addictive treats by selecting the perfect elements to pair together to create something both somewhat revolting yet delicious – see the Big Mac. The Idaho Burger shouldn’t be good, right? Yet everything comes together just right, the crunchiness of the hash brown being the obvious highlight but also the way the two sauces (barbecue and some sort of mustard concoction) mix just right. The only non-entity, as it always seems to be, is the bacon, tasteless and lost in the shuffle.

Size does end up hurting the Idaho Burger a bit. The way the meat just juts out from the bun means that, at some point, the eater must face the unpleasant experience of just nibbling on an unadorned McDonald’s beef patty. The chain’s strength lies in the combination of condiments to create a slurry of deliciousness, yet the actual patty is less of a food item and more of a blank canvas waiting to be smudged with a palette of “secret” sauces. More simply put – the patty itself tastes like absolutely nothing. Though not fast-food torture, it’s also no fun.

Of course, the real downside to the Idaho Burger…and, for all purposes, every item on the McDonald’s menu save, I don’t know, a single McNugget…comes after the meal when one starts feeling like walking death. I came into the McDonald’s restaurant expecting to fill my afternoon running errands, maybe cleaning my apartment. I ended up laying down on my couch for four hours listening to CDs because nothing sounded more ridiculous to my hash-browned brain than “going outside” or “walking.” At the time the Idaho Burger tasted divine. A couple hours later, it felt more like I had become Atlas, chiseled physique replaced by flabby skin and BBQ-sauce for blood. Thank goodness this thing adheres to another trend favored by the Japanese…you can only get it for a limited time.

Kobe Beefin’

January 20, 2011

This originally happened last year but…well, here it is!

Life in Japan for me has switched from a bizarre daydream…I’m actually here this is weird better go eat some sushi now…into a countdown. I have less than a year left here barring some amazing job discovery so now it feels like I need to cram all the trips and events I failed to get around to the first go through into a quickly dwindling timeframe. After a slight Autumn funk caused by…I don’t even know anymore…I finally feel the need to not spend all my free time hunched over my home heating unit. This weekend I joined two friends on a semi-impromptu trip to Kobe to do something I’d always wanted to do here…feel like a total rich person and eat Kobe beef.

Kobe

Kobe

Kobe

Kobe

Kobe

Kobe

Kobe beef carries quite the reputation, at least according to The Cheesecake Factory menu I recall reading in Towson, Maryland. All sorts of urban myths have attached themselves to this animal, such as they are fed beer and given extravagant massages, neither of which are actually true. Kobe beef looks incredibly appetizing even without any grilling, like steak in a Tom And Jerry cartoon that looks better raw than cooked. The city of Kobe isn’t terribly far from where I live…like, three hours at most…so eating Kobe beef in its namesake city has been one of the more decadent dreams I’ve had since coming to Japan. I finally decided to cross that one off last weekend.

We chose to eat the world famous beef for lunch, off the hunch it would be slightly me affordable as a midday meal. The area surrounding Kobe’s Sanmiya Station hides a bevy of dining options within its surprisingly open downtown area…compared to the narrow walks of Osaka and the complete crush of Tokyo, Kobe felt like a national park…a fair amount of which feature photos of Kobe beef seemingly sculpted out of an artist’s clay. We reached our destination, a restaurant found on the third floor of a seemingly narrow building that was clearly far too swanky for our likes (“they take your coat AND HANG IT FOR YOU what is this Ducktails?”), especially given my outfit of a semi-ironic Mickey Mouse t-shirt.

We sat down at a table featuring a grill in the middle, not unlike Bennihanas in America but a far cry from a gimmick. The waitress poured us glasses of water…FROM A GLASS BOTTLE…and we were given the menu. We had originally been set on the lunch special that, for about $45, gave you a “very similar to Kobe beef” meal plus a slew of sides. Yet after a few moments of internal debate, capped off by an overly-dramatic-given-the-situation group realization that this would be our one chance to eat authentic Kobe beef in Kobe (somewhere, a child in India pokes at a ratty shoe hoping a mouse comes out of it so they may have dinner for the night). We took the plunge…we ordered the expensive lunch set, which you can see pictured below. I swear most nights my dinner consists of a piece of white bread with a Kraft single carefully melted over it.

DX

DX

Committed, we placed our order and our friendly chef for the day took up his post right in front of us. As we pecked away at our salad, soup and rolls (two big pieces of bread, is this what the Four Seasons is like?) he fried up several vegetables for us as an appetizer. Surprise of the trip – beets taste pretty good! Then out came the beef.

Maybe we just fell victim to the “we paid a lot of money for this meal of course it’s delicious” mental pitfall, but it really did taste amazing. I’m not a food critic so I won’t bother trying to explain why, and instead just declare that’s some darn good eating. Very very juicy. It’s a great meal to splurge on, and I would say sort of a must if you ever find yourself in Kobe someday, price be damned. Plus, that’s some quality bread!

Following lunch we spent the rest of the day moseying around Kobe, seeing the famous port area and the also pretty hyped up annual “illumination” aka Christmas lights display. It’s a city far too beautiful to just describe as “looks like Seattle” like some bumbling traveling writer, a compact but packed place deserving of words far more inspired than whatever I barf up from one afternoon spent wandering around the harbor. So let’s just stare at some pictures.

Coke Machine In China Town That Loves Stereotypes

Coke Machine In China Town That Loves Stereotypes

China Town

China Town

Big Fish

Big Fish

Port Area

Port Area

Japanese Icon Hard Gay

Japanese Icon Hard Gay

Illumination

Illumination

I get off my plane at Narita International Airport and not more than 30 minutes what do I find staring me down outside the McDonald’s located near my hotel? An ad similar to the one above declaring a new crop of Big America burgers have arrived in stores, proving that this gimmick must really sell. The four sorta-new locations serving as culinary themes are Texas 2, Idaho (?), Miami and Manhattan. Click here to get full descriptions of each, though I’ll even spend some space to celebrate the absurd brilliance of the Idaho burger, which completes many a fast-food junkies’ dream of combining the McDonald’s breakfast menu with the regular menu via the inclusion of a whole hash brown on the burger. How that didn’t become an option in America baffles me. One of my New Year’s resolutions was to drop fast food out of my diet, but I might have to break it for the Idaho entry into this series. I’m a very sad individual.

In other 2011 news…you’ve probably noticed how little this blog has been being updated recently. Whooops! Blame it partly on me being surprisingly busy at the end of last year, along with the fact nothing terribly interesting happens to me much anymore which, hey, isn’t actually a bad thing! Still a few semi-interesting things (read: I went somewhere) happened before the end of 2010 and you can expect thrilling write-ups of what I ate in the coming weeks.

Though the current Asian crisis grabbing headlines comes from Korea, I hope you haven’t forgotten the old dispute that was all the rage, like, two weeks ago. Just read this if you missed out on the whole thing. The incident sparked a lot of chest-thumping from China and Japan…protests in the former getting the majority of the media attention (at least over here). Yet the Senkaku Island ordeal also lit something in (at least some) Japanese folk’s minds.

I talked with an older Japanese friend about this a few weeks ago. He first noted something I’d picked up on long ago…when it comes to politics, the Japanese, save for a few extremist branches unafraid of barking from the roofs of black vans, tended to be pretty detached. It isn’t like America, where being “liberal” or “conservative” can almost define you entirely to a stranger…the Japanese keep politics to themselves for the most part. Similarly, displays of patriotism…or nationalism, the definition can get slippery…seldom crop up.

My friend, though, told me this China-boat incident has managed to make many young Japanese people more patriotic, more ready to speak out. There is a lot of background as to just why this event would cause such a reaction…Japan and China’s EXTREMELY rocky history, the whole “China has replaced Japan as the Asian power” deal, the fact the Chinese stole a Japanese song from 1997 as the theme for this year’s Shanghai Expo…but the main point strikes pretty simply: some Japanese folks have been riled to patriotism.

I saw it firsthand a few weekends ago in downtown Osaka.

A peaceful afternoon of record shopping got uppercutted by group chanting led by bullhorn-amplified voices. Marching down the major street in Namba, a couple hundred people waving Japanese flags and hoisting signs into the sign while folks on the sidewalk stopped and stared. A few minutes of intent listening…soon confirmed by reading the sings, some written in pretty good English…revealed this to be an anti-China rally.

“Stop Chinese Invasion!” “Unite against communism!” Various posters decrying “imperialism” right next to people waving the Japanese Imperial flag. The whole demonstration at times reminded me of how the immigration issue in America gets framed by certain parties…people clamoring about an “invasion” when it isn’t remotely like that, though this whole Senkaku Island dispute differs in a lot of different ways.

Imperial flag yo

Imperial flag yo

The marchers moved down the street, stopping dutifully for red lights and whenever the police escort walking in front of them instructed them to. Passerbys on the street either turned their heads momentarily before whizzing onward or stopped completely to take it all in. Oh, and I pretended to be a journalist by running around taking photos with my iPhone, even getting a few protesters to turn their English-covered signs towards me. Something like this is so out of the ordinary, people will pay attention.

(Japanese Fun Fact #88: I have no idea if anyone is trying to peddle these in America, but 3-D TVs are getting a big push in Japan at the moment. They seem super goofy to me but hey what do I know. Anyway, I write this because I just read an article on Slate about nations making bids on the 2022 World Cup. Japan would be one such nation, and there big gimmick would be organizing “watching parties” around 3-D televisions. So…Japan really believes in this stuff. Also, bonus lol if ya read the South Korea entry which…just terrible timing.)

50 points to anyone who gets the title reference