A Geek in Japan | 2007 January
Adventures of a geek living in Japan
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Heike crab

I read at lostinjapan.info an interesting article that remind me how much I liked the “Heike´s crab” history when I read Cosmos from Carl Sagan.

“The Heike crab” or “the samurai crab” is famous because it looks like samurai warriors from the beginnings of last millenium. As Carl Sagan explains in his book, Heike clan warriors lost everything in a decisive battle against the Genji. That battle was on 1185 near Japanese coaste. Most of the corpses stayed for long around the beaches where the battle occurred.

Local fishermen living started believing that the spirits from those dead Heike warriors were living inside crabs that had some similarities with a human face. An artificial selection process was triggered because fishermen were returning those human-like crabs to the sea and eating “normal” crabs. Doing that for centuries “created” not only human-face crabs but even Heike-samurai-face crabs! And of course, those are the ones who survive.


Heike warrior’s face.

Non-scientific explanation, the fishermen’s legend says that those crabs are real Heike warriors transformed. There are eve traditional Japanese fold tales where crab armies return to fight against the Genji. Next ukiyo-e paint represents some Heike phantom ships and Heike crabs attacking the Genji army.

If you wanna listen Carl Sagan’s explanation that is better than mine, watch next video:

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Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman

Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman” is the last book I read from Haruki Murakami, my favorite writer. “Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman” its a compilation of short histories that he wrote since 1980 till nowadays. Reading this book you’ll get a sense of Haruki’s trajectory and style changes through time. Some of the short histories included in this book were used later to create full size novels like Norwegian Wood.

Some paragraphs extracted from the book that I liked:

“Do you like music?” she asked me.
“I do if it´s nice music in a nice world”, I said.
“In a nice world there is no nice music”, she said, as if revealing some deep secret. “In a nice world the air doesn´t vibrate”.

She waited for the train to pass. Then she said, ‘I sometimes think that people’s hearts are like deep wells. Nobody knows what’s at the bottom. All you can do is guess from waht comes floating to the surface every once in a while.’

Haruki Murakami can be considered one of the most internationalized Japaneses writers and is one of the best japanese candidades for next Nobel Prize contest. Next Haruki’s book After Dark can be pre-ordered from Amazon, and will be on sale sometime this year.

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Yasukuni shrine

Yasukuni ( 靖国 – “peaceful nation” ) is one of the most famous shrines in Japan because of its political use. I visited it for the first time last week and it was pretty boring, full of emperor seals and some radical groups praying.

The shrine was built dedicated to the spirits of Japanese who died defending the Emperor of Japan. The big problem came when they realized that including all spirits of all the people that died for the Emperor also includes war criminals. Among those war criminals there are 14 Class-A criminals (You have to kill some thousands of people to become Class-A) that are in the list of Yasukuni shrine; Chinese and Korean people are not very happy with that. One of the Class-A criminals was Hideki Tojo, the Japanese prime minister when Pearl Harbor attacked was carried out.

When you visit Yasukuni you quickly realize that the enshrined criminals are not the only rotten fish over there. You can see Japanese Yakuza walking around freely and scaring other people, also other right wing radical groups make Yasukuni shrine their home.


Yakuza praying to Yasukuni Gods.

Attached to the shrine there is a war museum. That is arranged in a way that suggests that Japan has always acted in self defense and in every war they were the victims. The excuse for China, Korean and Asia invasion in general is that they were trying to modernize, expand and built the necessary military in order to confront the ague of western colonial powers. In some panels in the museum it says: “We liberated Asia from Western imperialism”, “None of the soldiers that went to the battlefields with the purpose of invading or killing. They fought for the sake of their families and the state they loved”. The museum also explains carefully why Pearl Harbor was a pre-emptive attack taken in self defense.


An olg japanese moving his hand following the rhythm of an old japanese song that was used in war times.


Second World War plane at Yasukuni´s museum.

I really don’t understand the world we are living in. They discuss during years and years about those war criminals that are already dead but they don’t care a shit about alive criminals who use Yasukuni Shrine to show off their power.

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Free hugs or Free fucks

Found some japanese guys that joined the worldwide famous campaign Free Hugs. It seems that Japanese don’t really like it, usually they don’t even want to have physical contact with people they know. From the other hand it seems that many japanese with outstanding english skills thought that “Free hugs” was “Free fucks” and people is starting to talk bad about “those guys who give sex for free”.

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Ion generators

In Japan it seems that they love anything that “generates” ions. Ion generator gadgets are supposed to be improving the quality of the air that you breath by generation positive or negative ions. You can even select your preference in many of them! In my office we have two of them, the office ladies working with me love them, but when I ask them “What is an ion?” they look at me with a funny ignorance/who cares face.


Standard purifier.


For your car.


For your face. You have to move it around your face everyday and it will improve your skin.


Ions only for men! WTF


Hair driers with ion generation.


Hair brush ion generation.

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