Forum fans?

Ever since Tokyo Times was rather fortuitously nominated as a 2005 Bloggies finalist, the increased attention has had a profound effect on the site’s readership and exposure. Even resulting in a mention on the BBC fairly recently. Yes, I kid you not. There’s a link here for any (admittedly justified) doubters.

tokyo times bbc

So considering the number of people that now come here, I would like to ask you, regular reader, if the inclusion of a forum/message board would be of any interest? The focus I suppose being anything Japan related.

To be honest, such an addition is something I’ve never really thought about, not being much of a forum fan myself. I am however aware of how popular they are, and perhaps more importantly, the nice people where this site is hosted are offering a ‘one-click’ forum installation. A service that directly appeals to both my laziness and lack of technical know-how.

If any of you are interested in such a feature – or not as the case may be – I’d appreciate it if you’d either leave a comment below or send me a mail and let me know what you think. Thanks!

Khazi campaign

With Japan’s economy still dragging its feet in regards to a full-blown recovery, many shops and restaurants need a certain uniqueness or novelty to attract attention. Such efforts can differ wildly, but the shop below has opted for an approach unlikely to be seen anywhere else.

In the age of the gadget laden lavatory, a crumbling commode may just draw the punters in.

old toilet

Or not as the case may be.

Silicone satisfaction

For some time now, a few companies in the sex trade have been offering rubber doll rentals. A service that, for want of a better description, has been going down very well indeed – despite the relatively high price and potential hygiene problems.

However, perhaps not surprisingly, this demand for dolls has resulted in the opening of a downtown establishment for silicone sex seekers. The difference being that rather than having the dolls shipped out to customers, LaLa rents out private rooms that are furnished with a bath, toilet, and most importantly, a latex lover.

japanese latex doll

The shop currently has a staff of 17 ‘ladies’, with a going rate of 12,000 yen (60 pound) for 90 minutes. A price that obviously doesn’t deter many potential customers, as the store’s manager claims that, “On a really good day we get as many as 30 customers.” In regards to the kind of patrons LaLa attracts, he says that they “age from teens to men in their 60’s. For the most part they appear to be quiet, timid types, who probably feel more at ease with a doll than a young woman. Some bring along shopping bags with a couple of extra costumes. I suppose they enjoy dressing up the dolls and taking snapshots.”

blow up dolls

In an attempt to get the low-down on this burgeoning business, Dacapo magazine sent two intrepid students to try out the service. First up, so to speak, was 21-year-old Hiroshi. Opting to watch a racy video beforehand to get himself in the mood, he was disappointed to find that, “After I undressed her, I was upset to see that her head hadn’t been properly screwed on.” This inauspicious start set the tone for Hiroshi’s rubber rendezvous, and despite a few tender moments, the experience wasn’t an especially good one. “I felt something, but it also gave me something of a guilt trip, and I was asking myself, ‘What am I doing here?’ and I guess at that point I got completely turned off.”

latex doll head

Not exactly a glowing report for the new service it has to be said, but Hiroshi’s friend Takuya had a slightly more enjoyable experience. Finding himself in a room with a doll dressed as a flight attendant, he wasted no time on the preliminaries, quickly finding out that “there was no problem in the missionary position.” However it wasn’t all plain sailing, as “with some of the other positions we tried I had to hold her up, and since she was quite heavy my arms got tired.” Not that these minor setbacks slowed Takuya’s progress too much, as he confessed that “after thinking of previous enjoyable experiences, I was finally able to go all the way.”

Yet with LaLa’s service costing the same as establishments offering real women, coupled with the mixed reactions of the two students mentioned above, the shop might have its work cut out to survive in the long term, despite its early success. Even the temporarily relieved Takuya pondered after his exertions, “It made me realize how futile it can feel to convey love that doesn’t get reciprocated.”

latex doll face

Baseball bra

Despite several efforts – albeit of the half-hearted variety – baseball’s appeal totally escapes me. Especially when compared to football (soccer). That said, my favourite sport could learn a thing or two from the bat and ball game. Not as far as any sporting action is concerned mind you, but on the merchandising front. Namely the production of ladies undergarments.

Earlier this year, the Rakuten Eagles produced an attractive baseball related bra and panties combo, and not to be outdone, the Hanshin Tigers – in conjunction with Triumph International – have produced a similar set to commemorate the team’s 70th anniversary.

tigers bra

Not that anybody is interested, but in a vain attempt to justify the posting of such a picture, I should rather tediously add that the bra is embroidered with the Tiger’s logo, and with the skirt and a pair of shorts will go on sale for 21,000 yen (105 pounds).

Party (on) politics

Politics rarely gets a mention on these pages, but due to intense opposition in some quarters to Prime Minister Koizumi’s postal reform drive, and an upcoming election on September 11, new political parties are springing up on an almost daily basis. In fact not only are there are a plethora of new parties, but some lawmakers are hopping from one to another like gadflies.

Upper house member Kensei Hasegawa has been instrumental in this trend, helping set up Kokumin Shinto (People’s New Party) last week, and then on Wednesday deciding to jump ship and join the even more recent New Party Nippon.

Whilst Hasegawa’s move is said to have been tactical, giving the newer party the necessary number of parliamentarians to make it legal, a few doubters have begged to differ. Some lawmakers saying the move was simply a way for Hasegawa to team up with other disco loving Diet members, enabling him to indulge publicly in his love of the Bee Gees, and in particular the movie Saturday Night Fever. A claim that the picture below of the newly formed New Nippon Party appears to confirm. Hasegawa-san on the right looking especially pleased with himself. (Apologies for the poor image quality).

japanese politicians

Whether this emphasis on party in the world of politics will go down well with the electorate is hard to say, but New Komeito leader Takenori Kanzaki appears to think it might be worth a few votes. The veteran politician recently caught gamely grooving in front of a crowd of young voters.

japanese politics

Yet try as they might, it looks like the Prime Minister will be very hard to beat, the political pro having already gone a long way in securing the groove vote. Plus along the way cannily attracting the attention of the nation’s, ahem, swing voters too.

gere and koizumi

Mountain meeting

In the hotly contested most-bizarre-place-to-hold-an-interview competition, Japanese internet retailer ImageNET is currently leading the way, as yesterday the company held interviews on top of Mount Fuji.

Pretty unconventional it has to be said. Yet not content with potentially bagging a prize for the unique location of the interview, the online trader attempted to muscle in on the corniest-line-used-by-a-retailer award too, saying, “The job interview was held atop Japan’s highest mountain to make sure new employees have what it takes to scale the heights of business”

interview on fuji

It turns out that only 11 of the 20 applicants reached the summit, and with four jobs on offer, the climb looks to have been well worth the effort for those involved. However a rumour that the young candidate pictured above was heavily penalised for being a mere 10 minutes late after his 3,776-metre slog has yet to be confirmed.