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


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 July, 2011

Evo Out Of The Bodyshop

Posted By Dave on July 23rd, 2011

Quick update on the old car.  Well I picked it up a few days ago from the body shop (Isamu Body Shop in Nakagusuku) after its respray and rust treatment.  They have done a pretty good job considering the price, although I think they did better on my old RX-7 to be honest.  There are just a couple of bits that had a lack of attention to detail, but you get what you pay for as the adage goes.  And in retrospect I might have gone for a slightly lighter shade of grey rather than the lava grey I chose.  But my hindsight is always perfect.

And I got a wheel alignment yesterday so now all 4 wheels are pointing in vaguely the same direction.  Have been told that helps, although I’m sure it doesn’t affect my driving too much!  Anyway, my only couple of pressing issues now are the oil pan leak I have (it needs removing and sealant putting on it again), and I am almost certain the heater matrix is leaking.  It’s an absolute pain to remove, needing the whole dash to come out, so I’m going to just bypass it completely.  It doesn’t really get cold enough to need the heater in Okinawa, and all I’ll need to bypass it is to get some pipe that runs from one hose going into the matrix to the one coming out.

So always lots to do but for now a couple of pictures.  Enjoy.


Posted in Cars

English Teacher’s Killer Receives “Life” Sentence

Posted By Dave on July 21st, 2011


Well the verdict was due today and the Japanese are nothing if not on-time.  Sentencing was passed today on Tatsuya Ichihashi, the man who raped and then killed English teacher Lindsey Ann Hawker (pictured right), almost five years ago.  This afternoon an emotionless Ichihashi was given a “life” sentence for the rape and murder of Hawker.  That is according to the BBC; I’ve not read the Japanese reports yet so I’m assuming he was found guilty on both counts of rape and murder, which I’m sure everyone is relieved about.  And I am happy to say in this instance I was quite wrong with my estimate of a 2-3 year sentence, which I made last week.

Now as we know from judicial systems around the world, a “life” sentence rarely means that.  In this case it is an absolute maximum of 30 years imprisonment.  The shocking thing is that he would be eligible for parole after 10 years.  Now from what people are saying, it is unlikely that he would receive parole so soon, but it is a possibility.  And unlike many other countries, his release or any further details will not be announced.  This is very likely the last we will hear of Ichihashi and everything in Japan will be forgotten about pretty much.  Makes you wonder what the meaning of “life” is in a life sentence.  If anyone knows about law and why it’s called this please do let me know.

But justice has finally been served and hopefully it will provide some closure for the Hawker family.

Getting Fit Put on Hold Due To Health!

Posted By Dave on July 11th, 2011

Well, just as I felt I was starting to get a few results from my P90X workout, entering week 3, it’s been forced on hold for the past 7 days.  Last week I felt pretty washed out during my Monday workout, and couldn’t get anywhere near finishing the final ab exercises.  Put it down to just having a bad day but then woke up on Tuesday feeling grim.  All my muscles ached and I was starting to lose my voice.  I’m guessing my co-worker who I sit adjacent to and who has been sick for the past 10 days has been breathing a little too much and sharing her sickness with me.  Anyway since then my temperature has been all over the place, waking up a few nights with 38.5C (101F) on the thermometer.  Not nice.

So since last Tuesday I’ve been gulping down aspirin like they’re M&Ms.  Not having the biggest effect at the moment though; they’re taking my headaches away for a couple of hours but then they’re coming back.  Hopefully getting some stronger meds tonight so will hopefully be high as a kite by about 10pm!

Haven’t been to the hospital for a couple of reasons.  First of all, they will say whatever I have is down to “stress”.  I don’t know if this is a Japan thing or an Okinawan thing, but everything that can’t be diagnosed immediately is just put down to stress, with a little pain relieving medicine being offered and being told to “take care” as you go on your way.  Pretty much anything and anyone can be diagnosed with stress, down to 2 and 3 year olds, regardless of what the real reason is.  So I know I would get diagnosed with stress, and then given painkillers no stronger than the ones I’ve been taking all week.  Not worth my time going to be honest unless it gets a hell of a lot worse.

But hopefully it’ll pass in the next few days.  I don’t usually stay sick for long and am hoping to shake this off soon so I can get back into working out and trying to get fit again.  Fingers crossed I’ll be able to by the end of the week.

Featured Car of the Month – July

Posted By Dave on July 6th, 2011

A bit of a monthly feature here.  Have been asked to do a writeup for a “featured card of the month” on the evo123.net website.  While only being marginally literate, I’ve accepted and will also be posting the writeups on here for anyone that’s interested.  So here we go with the car for July…

Sometimes it’s the subtle things you do, the things that often go unnoticed by all but a trained eye, that make the biggest difference. Kevin’s (aka kev_evo1gsr) 1992 Evo I GSR is one of those cars. You won’t see any wide wheel arches, huge GT-style wing or aggressively low stance that rubs every speedbump you drive over. What you’ll find is a car that’s had the money spent exactly where it needs it.

Despite having an Evo now, Kevin still regards himself as a Ford man at heart. He was interested in cars and engines since leaving school, and cut his teeth playing and modifying with n/a Capris and Sierras. He only came across an Evo just over 12 months ago, when he saw his father-in-law selling his. It had been in the UK since 2005 and had no problems until the heater matrix blew, along with another couple of issues, causing the car to be off the road for a year. Kevin helped to put the Evo back on the road and then bought it from his father-in-law for a bargain price of just 1000 pounds.

The mods have continued since Kevin has owned the car, but he’s thought carefully about what he needed and didn’t just throw money at it. A budget boost controller was thrown in there to reliably manage boost pressure, along with a custom-made exhaust manifold. To ensure that the boost pressure goes exactly where it should (i.e. to the engine), a Forge adjustable BOV was put in to replace the notoriously leaky stock one. Engine management is handled by a HS Engineering Stage 2 chip at the moment, although Kevin’s got his eyes on an Ostrich to maximise the power his engine mods are giving him.

Speaking of that, we should take a little look at the engine bay. In the engine we’ve got a set of Evo 9 pistons and rods connected to a reground crankshaft and ACL race shells. Connecting block and head is a Cometic MLS headgasket with a set of ARP head studs making sure that everything stays exactly where it should. While this rebuild was taking place he took time to modify the fuelling, throwing in a Walbro 255, doing the all-important fuel pump rewire, and fitting an adjustable fuel regulator in to make sure the engine gets just the right amount of fuel. The turbo was looked at next, and a custom intake was fabricated and allows the turbo to throw out 20psi and no overboosting, courtesy of a Forge adjustable actuator.

Kevin’s got plans for the future that include an intercooler, larger injectors, and a mappable ECU so he can add another string to his bow. And his love for the old RWD Fords means that a Team Orange-esque RWD conversion would never be too far away! But for now, Kevin’s build goes to show that you can have a lot of fun with a daily driver without compromising on reliability.

Drivetrain: Exedy Clutch, Exedy lightened flywheel, braided steel clutch line

Engine: Evo IX pistons & rods, reground crankshaft, ACL race shells, ARP conrod bolts, ARP headstuds, Cometic 1.6mm headgasket, removed balance shafts, ITG air filter with custom-made intake, relocated battery, custom-made exhaust manifold, alloy radiator, slimline fan a/c removed, 3” cat-back exhaust with straight pipe, HS engineering Stage 2 chip, Walbro 255 fuel pump, adjustable fuel pressure regulator,560cc injectors, Evo III 16G turbo, Forge adjustable actuator, Forge recirculating BOV.

Other: Tein coilovers, braided steel brake lines

Thanks: to everyone on evo123.net for all their advice and helping me understand the way of the Evo’s. And also my fiancé for putting up with me working on it almost constantly

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Posted in Cars

Welcome to the New Big in Japan!

Posted By Dave on July 5th, 2011

Welcome visitors new and old, to the continuation of Big in Japan, my little eye on the world from Southern Japan.  The site was moved over today from my previous hosting company so there may be a few little gremlins in the system.  If you spot any be sure to let me know, and most of all enjoy the site!

Changes are coming…

Lindsay Ann Hawker Suspect Admits Killing Victim

Posted By Dave on July 4th, 2011


Over 18 months have passed since his arrest and it has been over 4 years since English teacher Lindsay Ann Hawker’s body was found in a bathtub covered with sand on a Tokyo balcony.  The suspect, Tatsuya Ichihashi, infamously succeeded in evading capture by running past 9 police officers who went to his door and running barefoot away down the street.  During his time in custody Ichihashi has written and published a book about his two years of evading capture, how sad he felt during the time and about his obsession with plastic surgery.  Forgive me if I don’t shed a tear for his plight.

Anyway, it was day one of his trial today in a case which could result in the death penalty.  Please note that I used the word “could” because I sincerely doubt that will be the case, having a rough idea about how things seem to work here in Japan.  On the opening day of trial Ichihashi has admitted raping his victim, and also strangling her so that she could not call out for help.  The more interesting outcome of this first day is that he has admitted that he caused her death by strangulation.  “I’m responsible for her death and for that, I am very sorry.”

Now I’m guessing that has been said for a number of reasons.  First off, he is saying that the death wasn’t premeditated and so most likely wouldn’t result in the death penalty, even in the worst instance.  The second part holds a lot of weight though here in Japan.  If you are seen to be showing remorse, then it is very likely that the prosecutors will take pity on you somewhat and lessen your sentence.  Am thinking they might take into account his time in custody prior to trial and the “hardship” he was under during his evasion from police capture (don’t laugh; I’m deadly serious).  Am going to go on the record and predict a manslaughter verdict with 2-3 years imprisonment, and a 4-5 year suspended sentence.  The fact that she died will be described as “regrettable” and everything swept under the carpet pretty much so that we can all pretend it never happened.  I hope I will be pleasantly surprised, but I’m the eternal skeptic.  A verdict is predicted on July 21st.

The trial continues.

Fitness/Road to the Coffin Update

Posted By Dave on July 1st, 2011

Well I’m still breathing just about which is a success of sorts I think.  Now almost 2 weeks into my P90X fitness regime with only the Kempo X (kickboxing-type stuff) to do this week.  Saturday is either a rest day or a day to do “Stretch X”.  Last week I did the stretching but this week I think I’m gonna take the rest day.  The past couple of days I’ve noticed I’ve not been able to put as much intensity into the workouts and I think I just need a day off for everything to relax and calm down a little.  Have read up on quite a few health blogs from people who’ve done this and it’s not uncommon to feel like this after the first 10 days to two weeks.  Hopefully then when I start up with week 3 of the programme on Sunday I’ll be back to full working operation and ready to go at it again.  Will see how I feel tomorrow though; it might be feeling that a low-intensity stretching workout might be just what I need.

Couple of thoughts from the past few days.  First off, I now have a lot more respect for people that do yoga, having done it over the past couple of weeks.  Prior to the course I thought it was just some low-impact exercise for people to do and not having any great health benefits.  I have to put my hand up and say that it is probably the toughest of the P90X fitness workouts I’ve done so far.  So anyone that can do a hardcore yoga workout then I doff my cap to you.  I finish the yoga sessions a crawling mess!

Second is that in the past few days I’ve been finding myself a lot more tired than usual.  Am sure it’s because of the exertions I’m putting myself under each day combined with a much lower calorie intake than I normally have.  Going to have to increase my calorie intake I think (but in a good way) and have already gone out and got some multivitamins to make sure my body’s getting the nutrients it needs to keep my alive.

So there we go.  Am feeling better in myself through doing the programme.  I’m sure it’s good for my body (clothes are fitting a little better) and considering how worn out I’m feeling after the workouts and how much they’re making me sweat I must be doing some good.  Also good for the mind though as I know I’m doing something to better myself so helps me to walk that little bit taller.  Enough for now though.  Another update on my road to World’s Strongest Man 2011 in a few days!

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