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An alternative look at life in the Land of the Rising Sun, coming from its southernmost prefecture, the island of Okinawa.
Posted By Dave on July 8th, 2014

http://www.biginjapan.co/biginjapan/getting-healthy-in-leeds-with-v-physique-body-by-design/

Those who have known me a while will know that I just about kept my body shape in control (mainly in Okinawa through sweating generally due to the heat and humidity) or because of walking so much with my car dying.  It definitely wasn’t due to exercise though!  But after a couple of months of being back in England […]

 

Archive for January, 2009

Nana Tanimura dons red bodysuit for new music video

Posted By Dave on January 30th, 2009

Nana TanimuraSaw this story on Japan Today, liked the picture and the story itself made me laugh, so I thought I would post it here.  Nana Tanimura, 22-year old J-pop singer and student at Aoyama Gakuin University releases her new song, Crazy For You, on February 18th.  Some of you may know my general loathing of anything related to Japanese pop music with the obvious exceptions of Utada Hikaru.  And I have to say, from the little I have heard Miss Tanimura is not really going to cause  a change in my mindset.  But then I read the story in full which talked about the music video accompanying the song.  “Tanimura plays two characters in the video clip – one is a spy dressed in a tight, bright red body suit, and the other is a more regular girl, in a bikini.”  Well you can see the said bodysuit to the right, which is as good a reason as any to post this story in the first place!  Now, she says that she is a spy in this music video, and usually spies try to fit in with their surroundings and the people around them.  It is very possible I have not been frequenting the right parts of Japan, or maybe it is just a mainland thing, but the last time I checked not so many people are walking around in bright red bodysuits.  Nor do I think it is standard spy attire; you may have seen I saw the latest James Bond film, Quantum of Solace, a couple of days ago.  Not once did Daniel Craig nor his female spy counterpart Olga Kurylenko, wearing red catsuits.  The regular girl in bikini I’m still not convinced by, even in Okinawa, but it’s a lot more believable than the spy outfit.

Finally, she says “I’ve injected a bit of stealth and some futuristic moves into my dance. You haven’t seen anything like it.”  I’m sorry but when you’re wearing a red bodysuit unzipped down to mid-breast level there is no way you can inject stealth into your dance.  As for not seeing anything like it, that may be true.  I will tell you when I see the video fior the first time.

The name’s Bond san… James Bond san

Posted By Dave on January 28th, 2009
Daniel Craig as James Bond in Quantum of Solace

Daniel Craig

For most of you in the developed world, the end of October saw the release of the 23rd James Bond film, the Daniel Craig-starring Quantum of Solace.  It broke records in the UK for opening weekend sales, and was the highest-grossing opening weekend Bond film ever in the US.  Well we’re almost into the 2nd month of 2009 and finally Bond has decided to make an appearance here in Japan.  It was released on Saturday, January 24th (box-office weekend apparently means nothing here in Japan) here in Okinawa and I decided to make a relatively rare trip to the cinema to check it out.

One of the main reasons my cinema trips are “once in a blue moon”-esque, and the reason why when I do go the place is at best 1/4 full is the ticket price.  Monday is “Men’s Day” which means that gents get in for a bargain price of Y1,100, which equates to about $13 or £9.  When I left the UK in 2004 I could get to the cinema for £5/$7 which was borderline too expensive, but this kind of pricing is just extortionate.  And that’s the bargain price!  Normal price would be $18 or £13.  But grudgingly I handed over my hard-earned(?) yen and got some refreshments.  The cinema was fuller than I’d expected, maybe due to the film having just been released.  There must have been about 20-30 people in there (bear in mind this cinema could probably hold around 250-300 people I would guess.  So I got comfy and prepared for the show.

One good thing here in Japan is you have virtually no adverts before the trailers start.  One bad thing in this particular case was that the first two trailers were for some horrific looking pieces of cinematography calling themselves High School Musical: The Movie, and Mamma Mia.  The former was just laughable, although I have a strange feeling I was laughing at the wrong points in the trailer.  The second was pitiful, and I was in physical pain by the end of it, wondering what is to follow in this seeming fashion of turning musicals into films.  If this is the best they can do then the bottom of the barrel is getting well and truly scraped.

Aston MartinBut onto Daniel Craig’s second outing in the Bond role.  I won’t give much away here as there are probably people who have not seen the film, but will just make some general remarks about it.  First thought that came into my head as the credits started to roll was, “There is no way you would get a hybrid car in Bolivia!”, and also wondering how much Ford had paid in order for their cars to be featured in the film once again.  It only seemed to be the Alfa Romeos that were getting completely destroyed.  Even Aston Martin who make the staggeringly beautiful main mode of transport for Bond (see above left) still has Ford with a $77m stake in them.  But product placement isn’t that heavy, and especially not when compared to the Pierce Brosnan days of the Bond series.

Got to say I’m a pretty big fan of Daniel Craig, despite having his critics.  He seems a more realistic portrayal of what an agent in the British Secret service would be; contrasting against the slightly overweight figures of Bonds gone by (mentioning no names, Messyrs Connery and Moore).  He’s been able to insert a cold-heartedness into the character probably never seen before, and it has made the series of films turn a pretty significant corner.  No offence to Pierce Brosnan, but he wasn’t really taking the films anywhere.  They seem to have a direction now, and you actually care for the characters a little more and their development through the films.  The past 2 films have really benefitted from having linked storylines as the characters have grown on you.

Olga Kurylenko and Gemma Arterton

Olga Kurylenko and Gemma Arterton

But a Bond film isn’t complete without a “Bond girl” or two, and I have to say I was very pleased with the choice of women in this movie.  That’s not just talking aesthetically either.  Bond’s main partner in crime so to speak is Ukranian actress and model Olga Kurylenko who plays the role of Camille, Bolivian agent.  Have to say that in the movie her Eastern European accent came through once or twice, and initially I thought she was playing the character of a Russian.  She is very much out of the mould of the new Bond girls: not just there for something pretty to look at and actually has a role in the film rather than just someone who swoons at Bond’s advances (which are very rare in the film).  The other girl is Gemma Arterton who plays the role of Strawberry Fields, and much more Bond-type name!  I believe she has had a umber of roles in the British theatre although this is her first time in a big film.

The film has some very good parts, and nice cinematography.  The cutting in the outdoor opera scene I really liked.  It reminded me a little of the Xbox 360 game, Hitman.  The only place the film comes up a little short is in the action sequences, in which there are many.  While the action is great, the director seems intent on cutting to a different shot every 2 seconds, which makes it pretty tough to keep up with what is going on at times.

Don’t let that put you off though.  If you like Bond films then you will already have seen this.  If you’re into action movies then you could do a lot worse than checking it out.  So if it comes to a toss-up between this, Mamma Mia and High School musical, don’t even consider the singing and dancing!  And if you do, please don’t visit my site again!

(That was a joke by the way.  Please come back to my site, but take a long hard look at yourself first!)

Unexploded bomb to be detonated in Okinawa waters, Feb 5th

Posted By Dave on January 28th, 2009

This is just a heads-up to anyone who gets into the waters around Okinawa.  Some unexploded ordenance (a single bomb, 205kg and 80cm diameter) has been found just off the western coast of Okinawa, near the popular dive spot known as “Kadena North”.  While this ordenance isn’t thought to be immediately dangerous to anyone, on February 5th at 1030 it will be detonated.  All marine activity within a 3000m radius will be prohibited between 9:00 and 11:30 of that day.  The exact location of the detonation is 26 degrees 21’6″ N and 127 degrees 44′ 0″ E.

Just wanted to make everyone aware of this.  If you need any more information or a map of the area in question, just let me know.  And take care in the waters if you are around there.

Ex-DPRK abductee’s brother almost hits nail on head in Japan

Posted By Dave on January 26th, 2009

http://www.biginjapan.co/biginjapan/ex-abductee-almost-hits-nail-on-head-in-japan/

Rarely does a day go by in Japan where you don’t see some news feature about the abduction of Japanese nationals by the DPRK in the 1970s.  The DPRK has stated that they have returned the nationals who are still alive, and the few others have died.  Japan say this is unacceptable, demanding more from DPRK.  Now I know that they had a nuclear test a couple of years ago, but I am going to stick my neck out and say that they haven’t yet mastered the art of resurrecting the dead.  But that doesn’t phase the government or media here, who continue to show pictures of those they suspect have been abducted.  Note the use of the word “suspect” here.  There are some people that just went missing in Japan in the 1970s who, for seemingly no reason, the government has decided have been abducted.  I assume because it was the easiest explanation and a way of closing the case.  The Japanese government has even gone so far as to tell NHK (the State TV station) that they should have more coverage of the abductions, and their international arm has been told to export programmes highlighting the abductions so this bi-lateral issue gets an international audience.

Right, background finished, now onto the story at hand.  It seems that the brother of one former abductee has come out against this constant media coverage of DPRK.  Have a read of the story below, covered by Japan Today:

Toru Hasuike, a former vice representative of the Association of Families of Victims Kidnapped by North Korea, on Saturday criticized the Japanese government’s policy toward North Korea over the abduction issue as well as media coverage of it.

“September 17, 2002, was a day of conspiracy. Japan and North Korea tried to sweep the slate clean,” Hasuike told the Asia Press Club, referring to the top-level meeting between former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

At that meeting, North Korea admitted abducting Japanese citizens in a state-sponsored program and agreed to return five to Japan. “The two sides signed the so-called Pyongyang Declaration which concluded five abductees were still alive and eight had died. That was a show by Japan and North Korea to normalize the bilateral relationship.”

Hasuike’s brother, Kaoru, was kidnapped by North Korean agents in 1978, and returned to Japan together with his Japanese wife in October 2002. In 2004, their children also returned to Japan after a second top-level meeting.

Since retiring from the association in 2007, Toru has continued to campaign for the release of further abductees believed to be in North Korea. He insisted that the families of the remaining abductees have so far been foiled by maneuvers from the government which wants to close the issue as soon as possible.

Hasuike said the government was just conducting a massive public campaign by creating TV commercials for advocacy and inviting foreign media to cover the issue. “Keeping the public informed of the issue is important. But it’s not the government’s main job. Their campaign trucks, for example, are like vehicles of right-wing campaigners.”

Hasuike said the government has manufactured an abnormal nationalism over North Korea. “They’ve created an enemy, and have got Japanese people shouting that North Korea is evil. Hating each other does not bring any positive results.”

Hasuike also pointed out that news media treat the families of abductees as taboo. “The media still feel guilty that they have not covered the issue. I think they’re having a brain freeze. What is important for us is to have an atmosphere in which we can have diversified opinions (on the issue) in society.”

Hasuike said he is now suspicious about politicians. “Some politicians organize research groups. But all of them take an extreme stance. None of them are moderate. Some politicians seem to believe they can obtain public support just by wearing blue ribbons.” He said he has no intention to become a politician.

Hasuike now thinks the abduction issue should be dealt with step by step while Japan and North Korea discuss normalization of relations. “I used to be called a ‘hard-line leader’ and requested economic sanctions to rescue other abductees. I now feel I did not have cool mind at that time but I have gradually changed my mind.”

Hasuike said Japan should not expect much support from the United States, and thinks the abduction issue is basically a bilateral issue between Japan and North Korea. “Americans are good at lip service. The U.S. would tackle the issue quickly enough if it were about its own people. Japanese politicians just want the U.S. to praise them.”

He suggested that Prime Minister Taro Aso hold a summit with Kim Jong-il.

*****************************

His points do seem a tad confused at times (he is critical of the government & media, but still campaigns for the release of abductees), but a lot of his points are very relavent.  It is plain to see that the LDP (the ruling party here in Japan) keeps trying to focus on the abduction issue, as it stirs emotions up within its right-wing core.  If the latest story shows the PM’s support dropping, expect an article mentioning DPRK very soon.

I have no doubt that either the government or media will do the utmost to quiet him down and I doubt this story will be reported in the mainstream media, but at least it goes to show that some people are having an opinion and using their voice here in Japan.  The voices of dissent are still being suppressed on the whole by the government and media, but they do seem to be growing.  I doubt I’ll hear anything more about this guy or about thsi story, but if I do I will pass the word on.

Wigan Warriors 2009 kit – first impressions

Posted By Dave on January 23rd, 2009

http://www.biginjapan.co/biginjapan/wigan-warriors-2009-kit-first-impressions/

An email just landed in my inbox sent out from Wigan Warriors RLFC, finally announcing their kit details for the 2009 kit.  I’m pretty sure in saying that they are the last club in Superleague to reveal their kit, mainly due to problems finding a sponsor after the JJB sponsorship finished at the  the 2008 season.  Well the replacement sponsor is Mecca Bingo and it certainly makes for a psychadelic pair of shirts.

I like the design of the shirts in general, and especially the away shirt.  The home shirt looks pretty good and could just have done with a bit more red on it in my opinion.  As for the big Mecca Bingo sponsor in the middle of the shirt… well, I was always told that if you have nothing good to say about something, it is better to say nothing at all.  The only comment I can make is that needs must in these times where words like “credit crunch” and “recession” are scarily apporpiate to describe society.

The only other couple of things of note are the price (£42.99), marking what I think is an increase from last season, and the double-whammy of it only becoming available at the end of February (current estimates are the 28th).  That is 3 weeks into the season that the shirts will become available, yet the price of them has gone up.  I think the least the club could have done would have been to decrease the price a little given the shirt debacle.  The majority of teams had their kit available just before Christmas in this crazy idea about making money in the festive season which must have bypassed the Wigan club.

But the kit is coming out I suppose, which saves a few worries that we might have to play in last season’s kit for a few games, but with the sponsors names taped over.

Posted in News

Obama-rama!

Posted By Dave on January 23rd, 2009

http://www.biginjapan.co/biginjapan/obama-rama/

It has been curious to watch the buildup to last November’s US election and Barack Obama’s inauguration here in Japan, and people’s opinions of it.  The media proudly reported that outgoing president Bush telephoned Taro Aso to thank him for his support (not really sure how Aso supported him in the previous 3 months of his leadership, maybe by endeavouring to get lower popularity ratings than him) in a display of self back-slapping at how important Japan is.  And then, on talking about Obama’s presidency over the next 4 years, a lot of the talk has been about how Japan expects Obama to work with Japan to sort out the abduction problem with DPRK.  I am sure that, with all the problems that are plaguing America and the world at large at the moment, Obama will put them on the backburner to focus his efforts on a bi-lateral problem with virtually no interest outside Japan.  The Japanese public have also been taking note of Obama, although none of them are quite sure why.  If you ask someone here to tell you about Obama they will say something like “He is a black man” or “He wants change”, but if you ask for more detail about these changes things become strangely silent.

But Obama fever has grown in Japan, along with his catch-phrases.  Which brings me onto my workplace.  Last weekend high school students in Japan took the Center test: a standardised test for students wishing to go to university in the forthcoming academic year.  Usually the students in the years below will make motivational posters for these students to show their support.  Well last Friday I went into school and what greeted me raised a wry smile.

And then I looked at the smaller posters made by individual classes.  “Yes you can!”, “Yes!  We can!”, and one which simply said “Yes!  Can!”  I am assuming the latter was a grammar mistake rather than an exclamation of support for tinned foodstuffs.  Obama-fever has definitely hit even the farthest reaches of Japan.

Amusing as they are though, it comes nowhere close to tbe best commend I have read about Obama from a student.  Normally I wouldn’t put students work online but I got their permission and this one is a must-see.  This was during an end-of-term test.  The students had read an article about Obama winnin the US election and Al Qaeda’s message in response.  Students were asked to write their opinions on the story.  This was one of the answers I received:

“I like Mr Obama.  He is god.  Because He likes slave.  I think disagree slave system.  We should lose slave system.  We should love brack colour people.  All people is family all over the world.  I hope to piece all over the world.  Thank you.”

As I picked my jaw up off the floor and started to analyse this, I tried to imagine what the hell the student was thinking.  I can understand the spelling mistake in missing out an “o” in good, although that is made more amusing by him then writing “He” with an uppercase “H” in the next sentence.  But the talk about slaves and losing the slave system… does that student still think the slave system is in operation in the US?  I dare not ask for fear of him telling me the answer.

So there you have it.  Obama will be a good president because he is God, and he loves slaves!

A dummies guide to reading compressor maps

Posted By Dave on January 23rd, 2009

I wrote this article very recently for an Evo site, and thought I’ throw it up here just for completion’s sake.  I know a lot of sites have guides to reading these maps so I wanted to add one here too.  I want to stress that I am far from a motoring expert and may make a few mistakes in describing this, so if you spot an error then please tell me so I can learn myself, and so I’m not telling people the wrong thing.  I’ll also try and keep this as simple as I can, so won’t be mentioning things like intercooler pressure drops and so on.  But without further delay, let’s crack on.

The graph you can see above is taken from a small 16G.  Let’s look at the vertical axis to start with, as this is the easiest one to explain.  This measures pressure ratio which looks at the turbo’s outlet pressure compared to the inlet pressure.  Imagine being sat in your car with the engine off and you look at your boost gauge.  It reports a pressure of 0, but that does not mean there is no air pressure at all (which could very well result in your eyes coming out of your head in a scene reminiscent of that God awful film, Event Horizon), but that at the inlet the pressure above that in the atmosphere is 0 (the atmosphere has a pressure itself of 1 bar).  So going back to our graph, a value of 2 will mean your car is running at 1bar of boost (because you then add the 1bar that’s already in there).  The equation to work out your pressure ratio (in bar) is simple:

Pressure ratio = 1 + boost pressure

In psi it will be:

Pressure ratio = (14.7 + boost pressure) / 14.7

So, we’ve all got the vertical axis worked out which means it’s time to turn to the horizontal axis, which is where things start to get a little more tricky.  This measures the airflow of the engine when under boost.  This is a very rough estimate, but let’s say an airflow of about 1lb/min equates to 10bhp.  Our first problem is that airflows can be shown in one of three separate ways: CFM, lbs/min and cubic metres/sec.  A couple of conversions can sort this out though, and are shown below:

CFM = lbs/min * 14.27
CFM = m3/sec * 2119

This link can also help with calculations.  We can see that this turbo can provide a maximum airflow of 520CFM which equates to 35lbs/min.  Each lb/min equals 10hp so the small 16G can power up to around 350bhp.  Still with me?  Good, then I’ll go on.

Right, now onto finding our car’s potential with this turbo.  Let’s say we want to boost to 1 bar on this small 16G.  Our pressure ratio is going to be 2 so we’ll draw a horizontal line across from 2 as follows:


Now let’s work on the airflow, and for this a website like this is very handy.  You fill in the blanks and it does all the work for you.  I entered a efficiency of 90% and used my stock Evo rev limiter of 7500rpm.  You then get a big table of figures giving your airflow at each boost level and rpm.  At the limiter and at full boost (i.e. the bottom right figure)we’re going to have an airflow of 481CFM so we can draw that up on the vertical axis (see green line below).


Now you need to look at the concentric ovals in the graph and you can see they start at 77 and go down to 60.  This is measuring the efficiency of your turbo.  Now it’s not set in stone by any means, but quite a few people use the rule that 70 and above is good, below that and the turbo is becoming inefficient and starts making more than a little heat.  As you can see, the small 16G on the Evo was made for low boost and quick spool, the latter being vital in a rally car.  Did you keep that compressor map page open?  Excellent!  Well if you scroll down to the 2nd table it shows the same information but in lbs/min, meaning we can estimate the power output of the turbo.  At 1bar/15psi and 7500rpm the airflow is 33.77lbs/min which will equate to about 330bhp.

See – not so hard at all!  Another thing the compressor map will give you an idea of is how quickly the turbo will spool.  Let’s stick with our previous example of a car running 1 bar of boost.  For this you need to follow the red line across until you hit the first oval of the map, and draw a line down (below shown in rather effeminate pink).  As you can see, it crosses the horizontal axis at about 130CFM.


Look back at the compressor map table of figures and go down to the 1bar of boost column (15psi) and work across until you get to the closest figure to 130CFM.  Then follow that up to give you an rpm.  As you can see, the engine will make 128.5CFM at 2000rpm so the turbo has the potential to spool at 2000rpm.  Obviously, it doesn’t do that in practice, but if you’ve been in an early Evo you know how quick those things are to spool.  The exhaust side of your turbo affects spool quite a bit I believe, but don’t know enough about it to explain how.

I could go into compressor surge and working out if a compressor is suitable but am still learning about that one myself.  If anyone can explain that one then by all means do so :).  This is some more nice reading on the subject: http://www.stealth316.com/2-3s-compflowmaps.htm.  If you have any questions or have spotted any mistakes, let me know.  Hope someone out there can learn something from this.

Posted in Cars

Another weekend, another weekend of no diving

Posted By Dave on January 23rd, 2009

I can’t help but bow my head in shame a little when I think about the last time I went diving.  2008 was a bad year for me getting into the water.  The car took up far too much of my time and money, and you might remember that one of my New Year’s resolutions was to get back into the water more.  Yet it looks like the earliest I will be getting wet will be the 30th.  I was all ready to get into the water tomorrow and finally see the fish again when I read the dive forecast.  “Chances of diving are low at best” it read, so I went over to my usual resource to check whether it will be good to dive, Virtual Buoy.  That confirmed my suspicions by showing a red flag for the ocean from this afternoon through Saturday, and Sunday isn’t expected to be much better.

So it’s with a sad heart that I will have to forego diving once again.  I suppose it will give me time to clean my apartment, continue to think about sorting my life out beyond August and maybe a little time with the girlfriend, but I would much rather be donning my wetsuit and enter the slightly chilly waters around Okinawa.  Fingers crossed for next weekend

“About me” section up

Posted By Dave on January 22nd, 2009

Just a quick site update to let you know that the “About me” page has been updated with a profile and pictures.  So if you have any slight interest in the person who is writing all these stories that are making your lives that bit more enjoyable, then follow the link on the right of the page!

Posted in News

Damn Skylines…

Posted By Dave on January 21st, 2009

Anyone who has lived or driven in Okinawa can testify to the popularity of the Nissan Skyline, and especially among US armed forces and dependents.  Anyway, there is a bit of banter usually about the Skylines, with people laughing and having a bit of fun whenever anything goes wrong with them.  This evening I got a double-whammy.

I was driving up to Kadena (a US air force base) from meeting a buddy for coffee in Chatan.  I got to about 2 intersections away when I get a call from another friend.  She was on the main road in Okinawa (Route 58) and her Skyline has just decided to stop completely just going up an intersection near Kadena.  She was panicking a bit and needed someone to push the car so I turn around, park up and push it through the intersection and off the 58 so it’s away from traffic.  She calls the tow company and they tell her they’ll be there in an hour or so.

We’re sat in my car now talking and suddenly hear a pretty loud bang.  Head back to the intersection and look across the road and what do I see?  A white Skyline which has decided to try and mount the not so small kerb on the other side of the road.  In doing so it had managed to do a fair bit of damage by the looks of it.  Windscreen was severely cracked, the bonnet was pushed up almost halfway up the windscreen and wouldn’t be surprised if it was a write-off.  Was looking from across the road but my friend said it looked like the guy who crashed was an officer.

My guess is he went up to the intersection and decided that, contrary to the sign saying no u-turns, he was gonna do a JDM mad tyte drift-spec turn when the right turn filter light came on!  He just failed to take into account 3 small things:

1, He has a Skyline
2, The roads are wet and hella slippery
3, He has a Skyline

My first thought was “Damn Skylines”.  But my 2nd thought was, “Pictures!” so I grabbed my phone and took a couple of low quality shots for your perusal.  Enjoy and I’ll be in touch with something more interesting soon.

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