Plain Talk


Cat Story by Grant Piper

I have a pet cat. He’s called Maple because when I bought him from a pet store as a new born kitten his fur looked to me a little like the color of maple syrup. As he’s aged his fur has taken on a more definitely orange hue than when I got him, but his name was set, so there. He’s a Munchkin cat, a naturally-occurring short-legged breed. His proportions and stature make him look especially cute and appealing. But his adult size is so much smaller than the usual house cats that people keep as pets that it’s almost silly. Letting him outside could be dangerous because it would be very easy for one of the large jungle crows/ravens that inhabit Tokyo to pick him off like an eagle hunting rodents. A veterinarian warned me so in almost exactly those words. I have taken him outside in my arms to look at the bigger world, but it obviously stresses him tremendously, so my Munchkin is a house cat. Munchkin cats have a reputation for a gentle disposition and he is very tolerant of being picked up and handled. But Maple is not a cuddly cat. He sleeps with me, but always at a distance, always in the same spot on the bed. He won’t curl up close to my face or on any part of my body, only close by my side.

I sometimes wonder what he thinks of me. I am certain that he thinks of me just as The Big One, the Food Giver. Certainly he thinks of me as a big cat. Most likely he “felinizes” all the humans he knows just as humans anthropomorphize their animals. People think of their dogs as having human qualities, ignoring the fact that they do not know what life as a dog is like. That’s not even possible. Similarly, it’s not possible for a dog or a cat to imagine life as a human, because they aren’t human. So I’m sure they do what we do, only in reverse. They think of us as members of their species.

When I come home at the end of a day Maple is definitely more excited than when I am home all day. I like to think he’s excited because he knows his family is home. Also, I’m pretty sure that animals get bored and that he surely must be bored alone in the apartment all day.




Plain Talk


My Favorite and Most Entertaining Sport by Dean Mejia

Move over Football, Basketball, and Baseball! I am a huge otaku for Japanese pro wrestling. Japanese professional wrestling, or “puroresu” started becoming a big deal in the 1950s. Sure Japan already had sumo wrestling and other mixed martial arts fighting competitions, but it wasn’t until Western influence that this new form of entertainment/competition/carnival-like performance made its way into the hearts and minds of the Japanese public. Local pioneers like Rikidozan, Antonio Inoki and the Giant Baba helped to pave the way for current stars like Shinsuke Nakamura and Hiroshi Tanahashi.

The goal has always been the same. The performers need to tell compelling stories that will keep the audience coming back for more. This is done moreso with their actions than their words. This is why I don’t have any issues while watching hours of Japanese wrestling on TV or in-person (even though my Nihongo language skills are sub-par). It is mostly all non-verbal communication and actions. I don’t need to be proficient in kanji or know all of my ru-form conjugations to understand when a good guy is being pummeled by a much larger and meaner-looking bad guy. I also feel naturally inclined to root for the guy that is being beaten to make a comeback.

In Japanese wrestling, the wrestler’s “fighting spirit” is what an audience member appreciates the most. In the West (within companies like WWE) wins and losses are more important. In Japan however, if you show the people that you put your full effort into a match/performance, then you have earned their respect and admiration. The Japanese take their wrestling more serious than the audiences in the West, and it is normal to have minimal crowd cheering or booing during a performance. It is looked at as more of an art (by the true fans at least). Many foreign wrestlers don’t like competing in Japan, because the local performers are known for “strong style” fighting. This basically means that they hit really hard. Pro wrestling all over the world is staged/planned/pre-determined, and it is not meant to hurt the athletes, but in order to make things look as real as possible, sometimes these guys (and ladies if you are watching joshi puroresu) really beat each other up.

Currently New Japan Pro Wrestling is the most popular company. They put on shows in the Tokyo Dome (where I was lucky enough to go see them), and at other venues all throughout Japan. If you have never gone to see a match before, I urge you to do so. Even if you are only one of a handful of foreigners surrounded by thousands of locals, you shouldn’t be intimidated. Everyone is there for the same reason. They want to see the best form of entertainment that money can buy. Let yourself get lost in the story that the wrestlers are telling, and I guarantee that you will be back in that arena seat every time that the performers come back to town.

What’s App With You?


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Tokyo Voice Column


Memes or Genes by Mardo

I have come to a conclusion, the purpose of life, is to be, and to continue being. We get jobs to buy food to stay alive, we have kids to keep people being alive, some of us even do public service to keep others alive who are part of our community or bloodline. The purpose of life is to keep life going. I know it’s not very profound or philosophical, nothing about transcending suffering or finding secrets, just going on.

As far as I can tell there are two ways to keep on going, Memes or Genes… ideas or family.

The genes part is obvious, we want kids. Socially and biologically we want to breed. We want a legacy, and many of us can trace our family trees backwards, so naturally we want it to go forwards as well.

Memes on the other hand are ideas. We want our ideas to go on. Karl Marx basically invented what we know as communism today, it is an idea that will come and go in fashion, but with Marxism, Karl marx is every bit as alive as Genghis khan is, a man who is estimated to be related to some 10% of the world’s population.

There are other ways to pass on the Memes or genes though. Rich single relatives leaving money for education to their siblings offspring, allowing the family to thrive that way. Or by making great works that will last for ever, People will read Haiku by Bashou forever. My favourite author, Sir Terry Pratchett, argued the view that as long as our name is remembered or spoken, we still go on. So for me, hopefully in a hundred or so years, Tokyo Notice Board will be an important historical snapshot of post-Heisei Japan, studied in universities everywhere, and people will be reading the words of Mardo in the future. We can but dream.




他にもミームとジーンを伝える方法がある。裕福な独身者が、兄弟、姉妹である親戚の子供に教育費を残す事により、その一族は血を絶やさず生きていく事ができる。あるいは後世ずっと崇められるすばらしい芸術を残す事により、永遠に人は芭蕉の俳句を読むことができる。僕の好きな作家であるサー・テりー・プラチェットは、名前が忘れ去られず、語られるならば、その人はまだ生きているのだと彼の見解を述べた。僕に置き換えると、「願わくは、100年ほど経ち、TNB が平成後の日本の重要な歴史的資料となり、どこの大学でも研究されるようになり、誰もが Mardo の エッセイを読みますように。」 誰にでも夢はある。

Strange but True


Adventure of 12-Year-Old

There’s nothing like the open road. A 12-year-old boy attempting to drive across Australia by himself drove more than 800 miles before police arrested him. Authorities from the Broken Hill Highway Patrol stopped the boy around 11 a.m. on Saturday, the New South Wales Police Force said in a statement. “Checks revealed the driver to be a 12-year-old boy traveling from Kendall NSW on his way to Perth,” police said. The boy was pulled over when highway patrol officers noticed his vehicle’s bumper dragging across the ground. The boy was arrested and taken to the Broken Hill Police Station. The road trip would be an ambitious one for even the most experienced traveler. It is unclear how he traveled such a great distance and refueled the car, all without being noticed.

What's my age?

If this experiment is any indication, your neighborhood bartender is probably better at making drinks than guessing how old you are. Watch barkeeps who have between three weeks to nearly 40 years of experience try to determine whether people are underage. The drink slingers checked out 10 participants in the stunt and let’s just say the results, like a Bloody Mary, were mixed. “I’m glad I check IDs,” one bartender said in the Cut video after their true ages were revealed. “I would have carded everybody here, for the record,” another declared. A toast to keeping it real, bartender.


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