I found a commune of funnel web spiders in Kikuka this weekend, when exploring a huge rock outcropping in the hills. The spiders reminded me of the ones in the Hobbit, and I imagined hundreds of tiny, hungry eyes watching, evaluating me, patiently waiting.
But these spiders were cool. There were tons of mosquitoes out, and I took satisfaction in knowing that many would be doomed to stumble into the complex of webs, their futile struggles transmitted down the gossamer strands, the vibrations transformed into impulses sparking across synapses of the arachnid, triggering a tiger-like pounce, mandibles of death injecting an acid as corrosive as the blood of a Giger Alien. Haha, game over man! Burn, you miserable mosquito. Burn.
This weekend, while chilling at Joe’s I was laying on the tatami when I felt something crawling next to me. I ignored it until it happened again, and was scared shitless when I saw a three inch long centipede on my arm. I flung it off, and Joe proceeded to douse it for a full minute with insecticide spray, as it writhed and whipped and jumped around in agony. I’m just glad I didn’t get bitten by the bastard. I like looking at the suckers, but I HATE it when they touch me!

Poop Fiction

I just found a new demographic for Kevin to bestow his enlightenment upon in this article. Dude, your words are brown gold to the next generation:

The content might seem off-colour to some, but potty humour is big in the world of popular children’s literature – from the Captain Underpants series to such best-selling titles as Zombie Butts From Uranus! – and some parents and authors believe the genre is attracting otherwise reluctant readers.
“You have to give kids something they want to read,” says Glenn Murray, an educator-turned-children’s author from Canada.
Murray co-wrote two books featuring Walter The Farting Dog, a flatulent pooch whose problem saves the day time and time again. The author believes his smelly protagonist is an ambassador for literacy.

My favorite book about excrement is one that I read to my nursery school students called “Unchi”, or in English, “Poop” (do you notice how no one uses this word anymore. the last time I remember hearing it was when I last watched Billy Madison). Highly recommended!
To anyone who missed it, the tapeworm story is a must read! Pork is starting to sound a lot more appetizing…


Takachiho, located in Northern Miyazaki-ken, is a beautiful, mountanous area. I have heard that bears can still be found in the surrounding forest, but have yet to see one. Also the aincent Kagura dance, the dance that represents the creation of Nippon (including the part about luring Amaterasu out of hiding in a cave in Aso), is performed in an isolated pocket of country deep in the mountains around here, for more than 24 straight hours by a die hard group of people carrying on the traditions of old (if you are interested in learning about Kagura, the Kagura-en in Namino has a guided tour, performances, and a (very boring) instructional video that you can experience, and you can learn how to make your very own soba with your hands. on a serious note, the soba soft serve is kick ass here- coming from Kumamoto City you can find the Kagura-en off of the 57, just past Takimurozaka). This particular location is Takachiho-kyou, or Takachiho Gorge.

Continue reading Takachiho-kyou

This Week’s Recipe

I have been enjoying a certain dish lately, so much so that I’m going to post it:
Pork Flavored Garlic Stir Fry
7 cloves of strong garlic, minced
3 pork chops, cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 large onion, cubed
3 bell peppers (preferably red or yellow, but green can be added for color) cubed
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of shoyu
1 tablespoon of mirin
1/2 teaspoon of hot sauce
garlic salt
montreal steak seasoning
Dipping sauce:
Mix 2 parts of Thai sweet chili sauce to 1 part Shiracha
Heat up your pan until it is really hot, and then add the oil, and spread it around the pan. Next, keep the heat on high add the vegetables and braise them for about 2 minutes. Add the pork, garlic, and seasonings, and then add the shoyu and mirin. Cook until the pork has a nice seared color. For best results, keep the heat high, and aim to cook the vegetables so that they are still crunchy, but not raw. Serve over rice, and dip morsels into the sauce. I enjoyed the flavor of the dish both with and without sauce, but you can mix the sauce into the dish as well.
The reason I like this dish is because:
1. It is cheap. Beef is more expensive right now over here. Bell peppers are fairly priced as well.
2. It’s fast.
3. It has lots of garlic, but maintains a good flavor balance.
4. I have way much more garlic salt and steak seasoning than I could ever use in Ubuyama (one year of use has only resulted in 1/3 use of Costco sized Lawry’s seasonings).
5. I love the smell of sesame oil frying in a hot pan.

The Last Undokai

The undokai is described as a “sports festival”, and that’s exactly what it it. I had a hard time accepting this term at face value, because the concept was foreign to me, but that’s exactly what it is. The whole community comes together to participate in the festivities, and play wacky Japanese-style group games. Undokai are an important social event that brings everyone together for one whole exhausting day.
This year, I was on the victorious red team. The kids are gettin’ their kung-fu poses on, Big Trouble In Little China style.
My students put in hours practicing a really cool dance, but I think that the dude on the right (Chiyuki) blew it, judging from the looks on Tomoyuki’s (center) and Masaoki’s (right) faces.
I really like my student’s paintings this year. The red team’s character wielding the wakizashi looks “Sassy” (Sprechen sie sassy?).
Now that’s sassy!

Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A B A Start

I KNEW I wasn’t wasting my time, spending so many hours killing goombas, orcs, and terrorists! If only my parents had encouraged me, I could be making the big bucks in Korea (thanks to Chris for the link). Does anyone remember that movie where a kid has to battle the rich kid who uses a Nintendo Power Glove (TM) in a video game tournament? That idea crashed and burned, didn’t it. Kind of like the robot and gyroscope that came with the NES. Back then, who would have predicted that the common mouse and keyboard would still be the gamer’s choice of equipment four years past 2000? I was hoping for electrodes to read my brainwaves, or something a little more advanced than a glorified typewriter interface…

Moderation is Masturbation?

Reading about a group of people meddling in the lives of other groups of people when they have no good reason to makes me angry and confused as to why they do such things. I mean, even breaching certain topics with people you don’t know is much like the act of craning your neck, or being the victim of somone doing so, to get a better view of how big of a dick the guy standing at the next urinal has. I get similar feelings when tampon commercials come on at unexpected times. Too much information exchange. I don’t even know that cheerleader jumping on the trampoline, why should I know about her vajina!
I find it strange that many members of the Christian church are so vehement in their condemnation of sex, and especially masturbation. It is interesting to note that “the Latin translation of masturbate, masturbare, which is a combination of two Latin words, manus (hand) and stuprare (defile), thus “to defile with the hand.””, is inherently loaded with a negative connotation. This attitude towards sex is unhealthy, both mentally and physiologically, but it is widely accepted by many members of society. Does this sound like practical advice to you?:

“Remain calm and tell yourself, ‘You don’t own me, masturbation! I’m taking my life back!’ (or something of that nature). If that doesn’t work, you can pursue alternatives like chewing gum, blasting John Lennon’s song ‘Cold Turkey,’ eating chocolate or whatever helps you best (not masturbation).”
The ministry is based on Matthew 5:27-30, which condemns lust and recommends amputating body parts that cause a believer to sin, “for it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.” (from Wired).

The poor bastards… Not only are most of them feeling bad when they inevitably “relapse” (and you know that most people do!), but they don’t seem to realize that they are promoting an unhealthy lifestyle. They are even encouraged to Bobbitize themselves if they can’t kick the habit! Ouch! According to a BBC report, flogging the dolphin acts to clean out the plumbing:

Dr Giles said fewer ejaculations may mean the carcinogens build up.
“It’s a prostatic stagnation hypothesis. The more you flush the ducts out, the less there is to hang around and damage the cells that line them.”
A similar connection has been found between breast cancer and breastfeeding, where lactating appeared to “flush out” carcinogens, reduce a woman’s risk of the disease, New Scientist reports.
Another theory put forward by the researchers is that ejaculation may induce prostate glands to mature fully, making them less susceptible to carcinogens.

But pleasuring one’s self can help out both sexes, and also help to develop and strengthen intimate relationships:

…some experts argue that masturbation improves sexual health by increasing an individual’s understanding of his or her own body and of what is erotically pleasing, building self-confidence and fostering self-acceptance. (Discovery Health)

I never wondered whether people actually believed that masturbation causes blindness or makes hair grow on palms, but I am starting to. It seems to me that groups like XXXChurch are merely misguided masochists, subscribing to a perverted vision of faith. I mean, wouldn’t God reward those who refrained from using their genitalia from all acts except strictly for straight forward copulation? It doesn’t seem very benevolent to bless those who walk the straight and narrow path with PROSTATE CANCER or a lesser understanding of one’s partner.
On the other hand, here is an article written by a group known as Liberated Christians. You should especially pay attention to the “How Masturbation Got it’s Bad Rap” section. I was surprised to learn that Kellogg (the cereal tycoon) tried to use his cornflakes to battle spankage, and “For those masturbators whom snacks could not cure, Kellogg suggested circumcision without anesthesia.”.

Red Cow

This is an akaushi (aka means red, and ushi is cow, as opposed to the *shooting from the hip* holstein in Justin’s picture) that I stumbled upon while driving the 40 into Ichinomiya. It’s interesting to see how people take care of their crops and livestock. It seems to me that the richer the rancher, the less attention each animal gets. The real small scale farmers treat each plant and animal with great importance, I suppose, because losing one cow could mean the only cow that they own.
Ubuyama is now famous for their beef and, to a lesser degree, dairy products. The akaushi is truly a delicious variety, and fat is evenly distributed through out the meat. My village serves a really expensive cut of this beef in an interesting way. They take a huge, prime slab and cut off slices as it grills, reminiscent of kabob but much thicker.
One thing that I don’t understand is why no one around here can appreciate a good thick steak, pot roast, or juicy cut of prime rib. They prefer to eat it cut up into small cuts known simply as yakiniku. Since these slices of meat are so thin (usually about 4mm thick), you can’t really eat them rare. They cook too fast for that, but yakiniku is certainly delicious. You can treat yourself to a steak in Ubuyama up around Hokubu, however a steak dinner will set you back no less than 3,000 yen. I have only gone once and it was worth it, but I that was a one time deal. The proprietor sent me home with a block of tofu, some tomatoes, and let me take home some tsukemono- they have 27 different types that are available to try!
So what happens when I look upon the face of my dinner as it is still a living, breathing creature of God? My stomach rumbles, and I think “damn, that akaushi looks really delicious”. It is interesting to note that I had the opposite reaction looking at, and more importantly smelling, the cattle of Harris ranch in Central California.