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August: The Return of Souls

August is peak summer season in Japan.  We can look forward to some of the most spectacular fireworks displays and festivals in the world, ...


Open tundra; neighing horses; warm rocking carriage cars meandering through  bitter cold  hinterlands along miles and miles of steel tracks cutting through vast windswept snow country - not a soul in sight.   The draw here is the relative quietude of the place.  If moving here, one must think of what benefit there is for old age.   Nothing.  But one must also think about how to earn money.  Nowhere.  One could also think about what's there to do here.  Nothing.  With that said, that's all the more reason to live here.   The routine of waking up in the morning to a typical Japanese breakfast, and then farming the land in order to yield crops.  Raising livestock for milk and dairy and perhaps grooming steers for beef would be the draw.   Your wife could walk around barefoot and pregnant ALL the time.  She never updates her wardrobe, she's a simple girl.   She spends her days making things for me and the kids and organizing meals all day.   I could watch her age with time over lunch, a long thin and fine streak of grey in her hair.  The weather is dry here, so it's never really good for her skin.  It's the little things that matter a lot.   If there's anything to look forward to, it's the delicious meals after working outside in the cold all day.  In the evenings, I always have her beauty to keep me warm; warmed by her bussom.

Inauguration 2017 Trump / Nation

 Inauguration 2017  Year of the Cock

[Cocking a snook at the establishment] an expression used to thumb your nose at derision disrespectfully. 

Get on with it, the people have spoken: 

A tribute to the celebugeeks who got it ALL wrong :  Celebrities, Pundits, and Politicians made their predictions and had their laughs like George Clooney, Tom Hanks, Bernie Sanders, Seth Meyers, Joy Behar (The View), Bob Beckel (CNN), Julia Roberts, Ann Coulter, Bill Maher (HBO), Stephen Colbert (The Late Show), Nancy Pelosi (congresswoman, former house speaker), Harry Reid (senator), Barack Obama, The Simpsons (TV show), Elizabeth Warren, Fareed Zakaria, George Stephanopoulos (ABC News), Mark Cuban (Billionaire), Chris Matthews (Hardball MSNBC), John Oliver (The Daily Show Comedy Central), Keith Ellison (Congressman), Ron Reagan....and More!

Americans elect people in office they hate, and then they re-elect them again only to belittle them on late-night television.  Does this only happen in the U.S.?   " It is over!" Joe Biden said after the House officially put an end to the vote count.   Donald Trump is now the 45th President of the United States.

America, like other countries, have voted-in some of the most outspoken, bigoted, and sensational mysognistic leaders of the ages.   The list is long, but just to name a few, you had the two Bushes, Bill Clinton, and now President Trump.  Obama's legacy  does not count because his presidency was 'rented ' in order to usher in a new era of liberalism.  Obama was more like the Chief - and - Facilitator, not the Commander - and - Chief.   Mr. Obama was a part-time Christian and a Muslim who supported gay marriage and made it constitutional to burn the American flag.   He disavowed his own pastor Jeremaiah Wright and rebuked his Attorney General for making incendiary comments about race relations in the U.S., so his agenda was somewhat muddled  and distorted because he did not have a clear agenda nor principle other then to disrupt American culture and push boundaries far beyond necessity.   In other words, you can't be a devil and a saint at the same time unless you ARE the establishment!

Here in Japan, we too have had our fair share of highly politically charged politicians who have left and indelible mark on Japanese society and politics.   Some of the most outlandish being former Governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara, an extreme right-wing learning politician who was elected three times as governor of one of the largest mega-cities in the world - Tokyo.   Highly unfavorable by women's rights groups alike, foreigners, lay judges, and the U.S. State Department for making incendiary comments about the gay community, women, contentious historical issues related to Japan's wartime guilt, and so on.    In many respect, Ishihara was more outspoken than the incoming president Donald Trump.  

The international community recognizes a pattern that's evident all over the world.   People elect unpopular leaders that go on to be re-elected.  The whole world decried the legacy of G.W. Bush Jr's. foreign policies in the Middle East.    All of us knew there were no WMDs and that there was no out of control terrorism in Western countries like  it is today  in the U.K., the U.S., and Germany.   Yet the world had to endure 8 whole years under the man that changed the course of the entire world.   We fight invisible enemies now.

The level of vitriol that was hurled at incoming president Donald Trump was unprecedented in history.   Effigies being burnt in the streets of America and Hollywood launching its   major offensive against a man they swore would never be the president of the United States is satirical in itself.   Unthinkable really.    Hollywood is not owned by America, didn't you guys know that?   Black music is not even owned by Blacks, right?   Kanye West knows who signs his checks?   America does not own American music ladies and gentleman!   The owners of American music love Donald Trump though, and your actions against him will be duly noted, just ask Mel Gibson, seriously.    Black rappers can make songs entitled "Fuck Donald Trump!" and think its okay because of Freedom of Speech have no respect even for themselves and the American flag.   Where are your morals and values?   

The mysognist card has been well played by every single political figure in the world, even your favorite  honorary American Black president Bill Clinton was a mysognistic adulterer.    Americans can ask themselves why they fail at the ballots, and to stop blaming the Russians.

John McAfee has enormous credibility in this regard because, even more so than the Intel Community.  Need I say more....?

In conclusion, America has proven to be one big internal failure one after the next.  A social experiment gone awry; in other words, most Americans still do not understand how the election system works, yet America's foreign policy dictates that  they are the champions of Democracy and therefore should teach other nations.  Some would say you must lead by example.   It's The Electoral College and the economy stupid.

The Beauty of Atami, Shizuoka and 日航亭

The very first white man ever killed in an onsen hot spring accident was here in Atami, in this well- spring, the source of most of all the water distributed to various luxury hotels here.    He died of a heart attack from exposure to hot water and the apparent holiness of the spring itself caused instant death to the foreigner!  I have prayed, so when I enter these waters I am safe and my energies are restored and then I am whole again.

The very first onsen experience I had had was about 20 years ago when I was visiting Japan as a tourist.   Four of us bathed in the mineral richness of Shizuoka's waters.  It was a blessing and a wonderful experience.   From that experience, I went on to travel the whole country to partake in the baptism of hot spring water while surrounding myself with friends and natural energy.   I have since published a book and have earned a sommelier certification by the Onsen Sommelier Association.

It's been awhile since I have blogged about my favorite national pastime.   The onsen or hot spring spa is one of the longest held traditional customs in Japan, and one that is still enjoyed today.  As the weather begins to cool and winter begins to set in, memories of onsen flood into my mind recalling a time when I sat up in an outdoor mountain spring atop a mountain resort with a sake while drinking the winter scene away.  I was captivated by the splendor.   Or, when I soaked away the cares of the world in a huge stone rock bath in the middle of a rice patty in Niigata with a lovely Jukujo under a full moonlit starry night sky.   Those were the days.

With a few more days left until the New Year, I took a jaunt down to Atami, Shizuoka to an old favorite of mine I had once visited 14 years ago.  It's called Yu - Ho -To -BA -shi - ru as the proper name title.   A true power spot source with great water.

The bitter naked chill outside from the eve of winter's kiss and then there's the hot mineral waters from the earth just waiting for you to dip into.   And if you are eccentric then you could sneak in a cold lager and sip on it a bit.  Great things never need to change, and they haven't even from all the years I have been throughout this land.   Nikkotei Oyu

Japan Condiments Series: Shishito Peppers

Japan condiment series:  Karaisuke!

Many of you may or may not be familiar with shishito peppers, the lion's head.   It's a widely recognized East Asian pepper all over the world that is often grilled and served either as it is, or as a condiment which can complement a wide range of food including Japanese white rice.   Even still many people are not aware of how prevalent this condiment is in Japanese cuisine today.

Since the days of Japanese Statesmen Ito Hirobumi,  spices like Togarashi were given to the Japanese by European traders in exchange for matchlocks, like many other commodities.    Kaiseki / or fine Japanese dining was incompatible with spicy food at that time, and still is among some foodies of today.   During the Korean Annexation, Japanese Statesman Ito Hirobumi gave the Koreans togarashi since it was impossible to incorporate it in traditional Japanese Kaiseki.  In order to perfect Korean kimchi, because original Korean Kimchi was just a brine with vegetables, not the spicy stuff foreign tourist and Koreans gobble up like it's their creation today, this new condiment was introduced.    As time went on Togarashi made its way back onto Japanese plates in the form of Japanese kimchi, but again, not everybody had adopted kimchi as a mainstay in the Japanese diet.   Next came shishito peppers ground up and served as a condiment and is considered more compatible with some Japanese food due to its relative mildness.

In reality,  for many centuries northerners in places like the Chuetsu region of Niigata enjoyed adding a very small amount of homegrown spices like shishito peppers to their rice and pickled foods.  This addition to Japanese cuisine reemerged and became a part of Japanese condiments.   Most locals in Niigata, from time to time, add it to their premium white rice, meats, or pickled vegetable.   Even soups.

Right now, as I am typing this, I am enjoying eating it over a bowl of Koshihikari brown rice ( husks still intact) and it is quite delicious.    If I were to rate this condiment according to the Scoville hot pepper scale, it would be about 500 heat units which is very mild and almost sweet.   It can definitely add a little flavor to food.

From the Desk of The soul of Japan. ( The only right leaning blog in Japan )

From the Desk of the soul of Japan.

Random stuff...

Another year is upon us, and it's time to reflect on current events within Japan, and the world. 

.... But first, I need meditation food....[ sigh ]....[ breathe in]....[ exhale ]....

 I must elevate my consciousness over baked mac-n-cheese drowned in 4 kinds of cheeses, a side of crispy fried shrimp,  and an icy tall glass of grape chu-hi!     In Japan, we have soul food, too, with a little Japanese soul.    

2016 has been a crazy year for us all.    My disappointments in relationships with both men and women, and self.  The state of the nation and more.   This has been the roughest year for me in a long time, but one that has been full of rewards and happy occasions.    I had once told myself that the bullshit that exists anywhere else in the world also exist right here in Japan.   The only difference is that here it's more of a cultural feature than an art form.   Here, Japanese people lie with sincerity,  in the states,  they lie with intent to take something from you, deliberately.    It takes a keen eye to pick up on a Japanese lie vs. a white lie.   I have been lied to by all manner of man and woman.   A smile is not a smile and a kiss is not a kiss for sure.  There's always a hidden agenda.   Somehow I have managed to stand on top of all that bullshit, enough to dust myself off of it!  

When I look out into the vast expanse of the urban sprawl, I am overcome with the daunting reality of age and decrepitude.  So many living corpses walking around with blank expressions on their faces who have no retirement to look forward to.  I don't care about them anymore.  I have my own ass to save.   The only warmth is coming from my paper cup of coffee in the mornings.

Single motherhood for so many returnee daughters from failed marriages has skyrocketed in recent years, along with a man baby crisis of adults who refuse to leave home to start their own lives.  It's  too scary of a thought for salaried men to think about, even for a reasonable retirement and age.    I am one of them but without all that baggage.

We run around chasing paper money and metallic coins to substantiate our lives.     We have to drink strong alcohol in order to talk about the pension problems and the sexless relationships here;  I can see why some people would rather throw themselves in front of a speeding train and inconvenience the lives of millions of commuters nationwide.  Japan definitely needs to take a look at how to fix the pension scheme instead of burdening the young people.  Instead, the government has already approved a Bill that is going to build prisons for the elderly who are now committing crimes like petty theft at grocery stores.   Their children simply do not want the burden of caring for the elderly financially, so the elderly turn to criminal acts to survive.    They are probably better off in jail anyways since they can't drive and are more dangerous on the road than in grocery stores. 

I was put up for 3 nights in a nice room, free of charge.   Clean sheets and rugs.  First thing I did was heat some water to make tea and breathe normally after toting luggage all over the place.     Japanese hospitality is still legendary and so is the attention to detail, at least this remains the same.     You remember what if felt like to sit in a clean hotel with a nice view and a hot cup of Japanese tea?  I know I do.  

On the way down from Tokyo I had a pale ale brewed from water sourced somewhere around Mount Fuji with some horse mackerel.  The mountain itself used to be revered as a god for thousands of years, the very iconic image of Japan.   Now, a veritable wasteland of mountain junkies with white penis fever seeking the next best thrill with selfie sticks in toe.  Thank you UNESCO.   The ale was cold and crisp and had a nice flavor profile with a good balance.   The horse mackerel has a deep vinegar and fishy and is a local specialty in Kanagawa Prefecture.    Soy sauce is also localized.    

There is free wi-fi onboard all Shinkansen trains, but only if you already have a router.   Japan's rapid transit network is wide ranging and beautiful.   We can go anywhere here and fast, unfortunately, the system itself is debt ridden like the Tokyo to Hokkaido route; working families simply cannot afford to pay to ride.   Not enough commuters are spending money to go to Hokkaido.   This problem is attributed to ticket prices and poor marketing schemes.    The virtues of the country are largely unknown by a large swath of Japanese, and this too is another reason the travel industry is suffering.   They simply do not teach enough of the virtues and beauty of Japan to their youngsters, and as a consequence, when they grow up they only want to travel overseas because of clever marketing schemes that appeal to internationalism.
( chase your dreams overseas in a foreign and exotic land).

I try to make sense of it all, too, this is one of many reasons why I stay connected with the folks that grow, produce, and sell agricultural products, including Japanese alcohol.    TPP fell through and President elect- Trump has another agenda in place, one that is center focused on America, not Japan.   This is good for Japanese farmers and will allow agro to rebuild from within the country in order to ensure a better and more sustainable future for generations of Japanese, and me and the Jukujo : )

The warm wombli(ness) of a mineral spring in the morning is heaven.    Liquid connubial bliss of fermented rice brew slept in god water and then there's the morning fresh chill of breeze in the nostrils, and I can pick up evergreen, spearmint, and pine and warm wood from the tub and I can hear a bird sing.   I think this is Japan.  

At times I wonder where the "old guard" has gone?  The old heads who worshipped at the feet of Mishima Yukio....

In the picture above is a "Kan - do - ko" or traditional Japanese sake warmer.   You preheat petrified wood until it glows orange and place them inside the metallic box.   Fill the sake warmer with water and place your sake container in the water.   The appeal here is slow warming sake and slow cooked bacon.   Freshly cut citrus fruit with insides removed and shaped into a cup.   Pour hot sake in and drink.   I am now an "old guard" or at least what is left of it.   

When president-elect Trump assumes the reigns of power, the world will be holding its breath.    I love this mango infused egg custard with a deep and rich taste as I reflect.   Long gone now are the days when you had sissy presidents who stood for nothing and who had no principle, and who swore on MLKs Bible, now the U.S. has a  president who has balls and all of a sudden the world feels secure again.   At least for Japanese they have the legal backing to revise the outdated constitution and legitimize their military arm.   According to the military law if a Japanese soldier dies in combat his family will receive 98 million yen!   Amazing.   

I love the ice cold banana chu-hi and the sweet chili and mayo yakitori in the Hancho District.    I had reconnected with a few negro sailors and am dumbfounded at the level of devotion they have with "old - Americana."    I see the cheeseburger and hot dog stands, very little in terms of old Yokosuka.   By the way, Yokosuka is a very beautiful town and has been for centuries until the U.S. established a base there.   A lot of tourist pass up Yokosuka and head to Miura Peninsula instead and I don't blame them.  Japanese women in search of larger and harder penises loiter around Yokosuka often times to get picked up and impregnated like in the case of special Kay - 3 kids and 3 different fathers.   

I'm usually too lazy to stay up passed midnight so I cannot enjoy the nightlife there, but whenever I am there I help myself to chu-hi and skewered bird.   

Moving passed Yokosuka and down to Kyoto, my eyes were blessed with temples and fall foliage.   The timing couldn't have been better.  I was sent to teach a course in Nagoya right about at the same time leaves in Kyoto began to turn.    Leaf peeping represents the season of change.   The admiration of fall foliage and Japanese temple viewing go hand in hand, along with the tea and cool temps.   

Do you ever take notice of the smell of "Igusa?"  I - Gu - Sa.   

Japanese tatami is made from Igusa, a type of grass that has been used for centuries as a medicinal herb to treat stress and fatigue.   Here in Kyoto you can experience the aromatics of real tatami made from 100% real Igusa.  The reason for pointing this out is because 70% of tatami is imported from China and is treated with chemical fertilizers.   This kills the natural chemicals found in Tatami.   Every garden in Kyoto has a house attached and these houses have real tatami.

One of my favorite train route maps by Jorudan and can be downloaded from the iTunes store.   I use this to get around with.

So that is a brief update on the situation with sofJ  ( son of a Jukujo).   In conclusion...

Stand on top of the bullshit, dust yourself off, and look down on the pile of lessons that you learnt.


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