Sake Archives 2002

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Tokyo Hostess Interview Series (Part V)
Ryoko Suzuki recently returned to Japan after a 4-month home-stay visit in Bakersfield, CA. After realizing that her part-time day job at a patent company wouldn't be enough for her to live on, she decided to take advantage of her prime commodity that Japanese men find irresistible - her youth, and became a hostess in the evenings near her home in Tokyo's outer Nerima Ward.

December 30, 2002

As the Economy Wanes Tokyo Homelessness Grows
Here, and for intermittent stretches along the river, homeless villages have sprung up. Nearly permanent structures composed of a mixture of tents, wood pallets, cardboard, and blue tarps sit at the river's edge.

December 23, 2002

Manga Artist Interview Series (Part I)
Toshio Maeda's groundbreaking manga series Urotsuki Doji from the early '80s firmly placed him in the history books - in Japan and abroad - as the pioneer of the genre known as hentai , or perverted. This work featured violent and graphic images of shapely young women being probed, felt, and fondled by the tentacles, elongated tongues, and miscellaneous extensions of creatures and men alike.

December 9, 2002

Hentai Manga Gears Up for World Exposure
The average hentai piece begins with the action being akin to standard porno movie fare and then slowly morphs into a smoky sea of mayhem featuring busty young girls being sucked, fondled, bound, and penetrated by any of a dozen various appendages emanating from an alien, samurai, schoolmate, or any other living creature that might happen into the scene.

November 30, 2002

The 2002 World Championship in Mahjong Comes to Tokyo
As a business, mahjong doesn't have the scope of pachinko , one of Japan's largest industries. Neither does it have quite the sophisticated allure of horse racing. Instead, its reputation over the past few decades has been as the game of choice for high-stakes wagering in smoke-filled backrooms and parlors by some of Japan's hardest-core gamblers - including members of the yakuza (gangsters), company presidents, and politicians.

October 21, 2002

Oh, No! Super Cab Comes Up Short
The burly Venezuelan slugger was battling more than just the opposing pitcher in these final few games. In recent years, it has become a ritual in Japanese baseball: protect the home run record from the foreign players by not throwing them strikes.

October 15, 2002

In with the Old: Yokohama's Red Brick Warehouses
The two brick buildings are former shipping warehouses from the early part of the last century that have been renovated to today house fancy shops , restaurants, and art exhibition rooms. More important though, the project represents a breath of fresh air that blows through Japan very infrequently: a preservation of the past in the face of a seemingly never-ending onslaught of new shopping centers and housing complexes.

September 30, 2002

The Unfriendly Skies: Becoming a Flight Attendant in Japan
But the odds are heavily stacked against the girls from the start. For example, a recent recruitment by Singapore Airlines accepted only 20 girls out of the roughly 2,500 applications that were submitted. For some of the larger domestic carriers, like All Nippon Airways, the number of applications can exceed 20,000 in a year.

September 22, 2002

King Copra in the Marshall Islands
Copra arrives by ship from the plantations in the outer islands and is stored in the plant's large warehouse. At this point, the copra is white, but its outer skin is brown due to contact with the shell and from the fire used in the drying process by the pickers.

August 31, 2002

A Fairy Tale in Tuvalu
The facts are, though, that the sea levels haven't been shown to be rising, at least not anywhere near Tuvalu, and long-term monitoring results have shown them to instead be falling. But Tuvalu does indeed have significant problems - enough for it to one day relocate its people.

August 24, 2002

Fighters, Be Ambitious!
The suffocating iron fist of the extremely popular Giants exists everywhere, even the icy environs of Hokkaido. The key for them will be putting a winning team on the field in an accommodating baseball environment that will generate a large fan support. Whether they will sink, swim, or fight on is not clear now. Though their few, yet highly devoted, fans have some tips for their team.

August 11, 2002

Tokyo Hostess Interview Series (Part IV)
Jessy, a Filipina, is currently in the middle of her second hostess tour in Japan. Her Roppongi club staffs 20 girls, all from the Philippines. She arrived in Japan after paying an agent in the Philippines roughly $1,000. She is provided with a small apartment in Asakusa by the club that she shares with three other girls.

July 28, 2002

Independence Comes to East Timor
The Telstra pre-paid phone cards are fanned out in the salesman's right hand in a set of six. Any and all foreigners exiting the nearby ANZ bank ATM machine are his target. To each one he waves the cards and utters a small attention grabber: "Sir!" He does this all day. It's his job.

July 19, 2002

Tokyo Hostess Interview Series (Part III)
Tomoko Kuroda began working in the hostess world at the age of 17. Today, she is retired. But it was not until seven years had passed that she finally put her lighter and lipstick away for good. During this time, she discovered that working as a hostess is not as simple as knowing when to add ice to a customer's drink.

July 10, 2002

Levitating into the Future
Though in mere testing stages now at a specially prepared track in Yamanashi Prefecture, train travel using this cutting-edge technology might just supplant the airplane and the Tokaido Shinkansen "bullet" train as the preferred means for passengers to travel from Tokyo to Osaka and back.

June 30, 2002

Sorcery Meets the World Cup in Ambrym
He stands, occasionally rubbing the stubble of his chin, and watches from behind a crowd of about 60 men fanning out in front of one of the village's few televisions. Most sit on the ground while others occupy space on three short benches. The eldest of the group gets the only chair. His cane rests on his lap.

June 23, 2002

Slots of Fun in Vanuatu
There is a knock at the door. Allan Palmer raises his head and greets a middle-aged housewife as she steps inside his office. He pauses from some work at his desk and they exchange a few pleasantries in French. She then exits and Allan resumes his office work. A few moments later Allan's secretary enters with a slip of paper. It is a marker.

June 10, 2002

Kappabashi: Everything But Food
Welcome to "kitchen town," a collection of shops selling nearly everything needed to start a restaurant. Wax models of steaks, curry rice, and ice cream are just the beginning. Staff uniforms, pots, dishes, interior furnishings, signs, cash registers, scouring pads, blenders, and even giant plastic ice cream cones are on offer at the collection of over 150 shops on Kappabashi Dogugai street near Tokyo's Ueno district.

May 31, 2002

Bonaire Finds a New Home in Kiribati
"It was a free for all," John remembers of his approach to the unmanned ship. He had just finished pedaling 45 minutes from his home on the island, where as a member of the Peace Corps he gives instruction on health issues. At this point, the ship was in the process of being dismantled by 10-15 locals, with one guy trying to remove the rear mast.

May 22, 2002

Yubari: Japan's Melon Kingdom
The "Yubari King," the brand name as it is known across Japan, today accounts for 97% of Yubari's agricultural income. "This is our main industry now that the mines have closed," explains Katsuhide Totsuka, a 45-year old manager of the Yubari Agricultural Cooperative Association. As a result, much of Yubari's future prosperity rests on the perfected growing process and national reputation of this round and gold gem.

May 12, 2002

Tokyo Hostess Interview Series (Part II)
By all accounts, Ayano Iwata has seen everything there is to see in the hostess world. From the age of 18, she's been a mama-san at three clubs, one being in Tokyo's posh Ginza district. Ayano's world is one whose sole existence is to flatter and comfort some of Japan's most noted company men.

April 30, 2002

A Pachinko Parlor Owner Sticks to His Nails
Yoshimasa Ono puts the compilation cassette into the stereo underneath his counter. It is a mix of oldies ("I've Got Rhythm") and new artists (Mariah Carey). Just behind him in a glass cabinet are packages of soap and corned beef. It is mid-morning and his regulars are just now beginning to take their seats in one of the four rows of machines at Kamome, his small pachinko parlor near Tokyo's Yurakucho Station.

April 20, 2002

Tokyo Hostess Interview Series (Part I)
At a typical hostess club, the mama-san (female proprietor of the club) greets all guests at the door. Couches are set against the walls. Tables are in the middle. The girls greet each guest and offer him a seat. From there, the flattery flows along as smoothly as the cigarette smoke and whiskey over ice.

April 10, 2002

Tokyo Construction Craze: Boom or Bust?
He highlights the carefully landscaped entryway and the large bicycle parking area. Additionally, he makes sure that each customer knows that this complex offers every modern convenience available on the market today; from the large cupboard space to the details of the "dimple key" for the front door, Tetsuji doesn't miss a thing. His approach is friendly, like that of an older brother.

March 31, 2002

Sozai: Japan's Fashionable Food Boom
At Shinjuku's Isetan on a weekday evening, a dozen uniformed clerks in chef's hats behind glass counters dole out dozens of various salad dishes into small plastic cups. Each cup is weighed, capped, and bagged with lightning speed. This is because customers are lining up a few rows deep, waiting to select their favorite eggplant or tomato salad.

March 24, 2002

Cheap Beer's Burp in the Road
Happoshu, or literally "sparkling liquor," is a beer-like low-malt alcoholic beverage that is extremely popular with consumers because of its very low price relative to regular beer. The price difference is due to a tax categorization loophole.

March 12, 2002

The Rising Sea in Kiribati
A swift breeze comes off the palm tree-lined lagoon. The lagoon is at her back as she works. Now it is low tide and the waves lap up onto the shore at a comfortable 10 yards from her property. Even at high tide, watermarks show that the tide falls well below her makeshift five-foot seawall.

February 28, 2002

Lao PDR Diary: Vientiane to Savannakhet
After crossing the Nam Ngum River at a point before it empties into the Mekong, we stop at the side of the road for noodles. Three girls are selling handmade foods: kaolam (sticky rice and coconut stuffed in bamboo and grilled), pinkgai (grilled chicken), gatan (a small fruit), and tourin (peanuts).

February 18, 2002

A Casino Grows in Tokyo
But unlike days gone by, the yakuza's involvement in gambling is not the big story. Rather, it is that the whole industry is suffering. The situation is so severe that it is even hitting the gangsters themselves. Sumiya relates, "Before the yakuza boss drove a BMW. Today he drives a domestic."

February 7, 2002

Japan Loves Cambodia
"We want everyone to love Cambodia," says Emi Uchizumi, editor of the Japanese language guide AngkorZen. The quarterly Cambodia-based publication includes restaurant reviews, interviews, and feature articles. It has a slick and colorful layout and prints 10,000 copies per issue. Its first issue was printed in April of last year.

January 29, 2002

Life in a Box: Selling Japan's Lottery
On any day, he can present great riches to any one of his customers. But more often, he gives them encouragement and even psychological counseling to ease their financial woes. Though his business is a form of gambling, the yakuza (organized crime) leave him alone. However, back pain from sitting all day, provides him with more than his share of trouble.

January 22, 2002

Cows Get Mad, Restaurant Owners Get Angry
"Our business is off 40%," grimaces Seung Young Choung, manager of Hangukan. A similar story can be told across the street at Korai by manager Sang Woo Lee. Business at his place has dropped 30%. The culprit behind the fall at these restaurants can be directly attributed to the discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or what is referred to as "mad cow disease," in three milk cows.

January 9, 2002

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