Sake Archives 2005

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Talkin' Baseball with Kazuhiro Yamauchi
As a player, manager, and coach, Yamauchi has emphasized bat control and a steady eye, in addition to a keen focus, as the keys to hitting. This old-school approach might seem simple but it has earned him the reputation as one of Japan's premier hitting technicians. Every player has his own hitting theory, explains Yamauchi. But the general hitting philosophies of Japan and the big leagues are quite different.

December 30, 2005

When the Love Has Ended
Under the watch of their hawkish supervisor, it is now the team's job to restock such amenities as toothbrushes and condoms, scrub the toilet, change the sheets, and mop the floor at a pit-crew pace so that the room can be made available as soon as possible. Bumping into strangely matched couples, disposing of bodily fluids of wide variety, and retrieving discarded playthings are a challenging part of the job description.

December 24, 2005

Samurai Screams
"You are being killed. You need to scream!" booms instructor Ryuji Kikuchi of the Tate-Do school of sword-fight choreography. You hunch over clutching your stomach and once again let out another roar. Your opponent quickly returns his weapon to the sheath attached to his belt. As is the custom, you then fall to the floor once it is securely in place. You are now dead.

December 15, 2005

Tokyo Digital News: Bikinis Hit the Air
As the founder of sordid satellite network Paradise TV seven years ago, Michiyuki Matsunaga has since moved on to Tokyo Digital News, a slightly less provocative broadcasting station that transmits stories via the Internet and mobile phones in which the announcers are young girls clad in bikinis.

November 25, 2005

Bobby Valentine's Baseball World
"I haven't been offered a contract to manage anywhere for next year," said Valentine at a luncheon at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan on Tuesday. "So any talk of where I might manage would be premature." But for the skipper who brought the Lotte franchise its first Japan Series championship in 31 years wherever he goes his demands are simple. "I want to be challenged," he said. "I want to be appreciated, and I want to be comfortable in my surroundings."

November 10, 2005

Fuel Cell Vehicles at the Tokyo Motor Show
Since the industrial revolution spawned only the internal combustion engine and not a provision for a $70-a-barrel rate for oil, alternative fuel vehicles are the talk of this year's show. For Takahashi, a member of Nissan's research and development team, this is his baby. "It is difficult to design and lay out the parts so that everything fits into the car," he says of his eco-SUV, shaking his head. Take the hydrogen tank. Finding an appropriate location for a container the size of a large beach ball can be cumbersome.

November 6, 2005

Creative Funding for Japanese Films
Japan's film companies are today racking up larger production costs - well in excess of the typical $2 million to $3 million - in an effort to keep up with imports. As a result, raising cash is getting more creative and deviating from the standard multi-partner funding model that usually includes only film-related companies.

October 26, 2005

Circling beneath Tokyo
Deep beneath a boulevard in western Tokyo lies the construction site of the 11-kilometer Central Circular Shinjuku Route - the second link in the Central Circular Route transportation circle. Planners within the Metropolitan Expressway Company (the project's owner) believe that an efficient road transport system in Tokyo requires a network of expressways in which radial and circular routes work in equilibrium.

October 23, 2005

NHK'S Revenue Getting Slammed
Wham! The sound of slamming doors is becoming increasingly common across Japan. Nihon Hoso Kyokai (NHK), Japan's only non-commercial public radio and television broadcasting network, has recently been forced to re-evaluate its policies after a series of scandals have caused large numbers of viewers to boycott paying the subscription fee collected door-to-door.

October 20, 2005

NHK'S Peace Archives
"The tragedies in Hiroshima and Nagasaki must be prevented from recurring in any part of the world for years to come," said Associate Director of the Peace Archives initiative, Manabu Ihara, of the archive's goal. NHK is delivering this message of peace by making this extensive compilation of programs available for public viewing throughout Japan and the world.

October 17, 2005

A Bar with All the Answers
Though fraud and stalker cases are common, the majority seeks help with one thing: love, as in exposing or dissolving a love affair. But unlike the gritty noir exploits of Raymond Chandler's post-World War II fictional sleuth Philip Marlow that have stereotyped the profession over the years, the cases at Answer require a much more gentle untangling, a process in which a bit of alcohol provides a comforting beginning.

September 28, 2005

Horie Is Heading to Hiroshima
"I want to change the status quo of the image that politicians have," the brash 32-year old said. "I want young people to think that politicians can be cool and brilliant." Up until now the 32-year-old Horie has primarily been involved in running his Internet portal Livedoor. But he signed on for the Hiroshima District No. 6 election as an independent to challenge renegade Shizuka Kamei, formerly of Koizumi's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, amid the ongoing clash over postal privatization.

September 8, 2005

The Pachinko Player
A few yards further down the alley, he steps into the front door of the parlor named Popeye. After shuffling down one aisle and making a turn to the left, he pauses and then breaks into a wide grin. He sees a hanemono, or "wing-type," machine. Nishi, 30, is a pachinko expert. His strategy for success revolves around money management and riding the wings of the hanemono. It has served him well during his years of attempting to wrestle what he can from this huge industry.

August 30, 2005

Delicious Vinyl: Japan's Plastic Food Replicas
The fish is actually made of plastic - vinyl chloride, to be exact - and the location is not an eatery of any kind but rather a tiny shop in Otsuka, Tokyo. Nagao's company, Nagao Shoken, creates the plastic food models often seen lined up on shelves in dusty glass cabinets at entrances to restaurants in Japan. Even with his work resembling food, his shop is quite different from a kitchen.

August 25, 2005

Returning to Yasukuni Shrine
They're of all ages and from many backgrounds. Braving the merciless summer sun, come they do - numbering in the thousands - on August 15th, the anniversary of the conclusion of World War II. Former soldiers, decked out in full military dress and attracting the cameras of journalists and tourists, find a shady spot to sit and swap war stories. On the surrounding streets, members of right-wing groups pour out of their large and colorful soundtrucks. Welcome to Yasukuni Shrine.

August 17, 2005

Maid Cafes Add Cool to Akihabara
To the uproarious approval of a gathering of five hundred mostly young male otaku, or extreme fanatic, female employees of Akihabara’s now trendy maid cafes (a generic expression given to a variety of shops staffed by pretty young girls outfitted in alluring costumes) assisted in the performance of uchimizu - the summer ritual of tossing water on to hot pavement in an effort to create a cooling sensation.

July 27, 2005

Shochiku Adds Animation
Japanese film giants Toei and Toho probably cast nervous looks over their backs in September, when film-distribution and kabuki-theater conglomerate Shochiku established an animation division to increase its share of Japan's $18 billion annual animation market.

April 30, 2005

Daido Moriyama: Shinjuku Drifter
Moriyama sees Shinjuku as a place on the edge. Ikebukuro to the north and Shibuya to the south lack realism, he says. It is Shinjuku's "depth" that he finds appealing. "When I walk through Shinjuku taking photos," Moriyama explains, "I have a feeling of excitement and fear."

April 21, 2005

The King of Satellite Television Smut
With his black zippered jacket as sharp as his Ray-Ban glasses, the 58-year-old then faces forward and begins counting off the things that people will pay substantial sums to watch on television. "Movies," he says, folding his pinky inward in typical Japanese fashion, "gambling, sports..." He then pauses, his face forming a grin. And sex.

April 7, 2005

Journey to the Center of the Earth
At the point of final discharge (in the city of Kasukabe) massive pumps send the flood water into the Edogawa River, which in turn empties into the Pacific Ocean. Between the pump system and the channel's terminus is a massive room of smooth concrete. As long as two football fields with 59 piers reaching to a 25-meter high ceiling, the scene takes on the look of something suitable for a sci-fi movie set or an ode to ancient Greek architecture.

March 30, 2005

Paradise TV Strives for Stupidity, Sex
The breeze increases, so much so that her black skirt and white long sleeves suddenly disappear in the rush, leaving the determined newswoman clad in only lace panties and an extremely loose-fitting black bra in which to announce the rain in Sendai. Welcome to Paradise TV.

March 19, 2005

Iceland Awaits Bobby Fischer
It is the most intriguing item to emerge from Iceland since Bjork's last album, and Bobby Fischer's got it, or it at least his legal team does. It is his passport, and this time it is valid.

March 10, 2005

Donning the Robe
His daily routine always begins with a bang - or more accurately, with the striking of a small cylindrical gong - to signify the start of a prayer session. The gong sits next to a large kneeling pillow slightly offset from a butsudan, or small Buddhist memorial.

February 25, 2005

The Art of Ninjashot Photography
The pastime can be summarized as a lurid mix of lust, lenses, and stealth that is enhanced by Japan's commonly cramped environs and culture. Make no mistake, this hobby, fuelled in recent years by developments in digital photography, is generally illegal, but that factor pales in comparison to the rush.

January 21, 2005

Tokyo Underground
But this intersection in Toranomon is special in one way: No column, scaffold, concrete mixer, or other standard evidence of work ever shows itself from behind the construction site's enclosure. The reason can be found below - way below - ground level.

January 11, 2005

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