Mainichi shuts down WaiWai

This is pretty old news by now, but I just found out about it. I don’t spend much time surfing websites about Japan. When I still lived in the US, I hardly ever followed local news either. I’ve always been a Time/Newsweek/US News & World Report kinda guy.

For years and years, the English language website for Mainichi News had a section called WaiWai. It translated salacious and bizarre articles from the dregs of Japanese tabloids into English. As far as I know, the authors of WaiWai never made anything up–they left that to the authors of the original articles about such nonsense like a restaurant where you could have sex with a pig then have it cooked for you.

A Japanese person could read the original articles in their original context and considering the source and content easily see through the bullshit, similar to how an American could tell that an article from the National Inquirer or Weekly World News about scientists planning to blow up the moon is most likely not true. But foreigners have a propensity to believe absolutely anything they read about Japan, up to and including the thousands upon thousands of used panty vending machines on every street corner here that don’t f**king exist.

Apparently it was the “You screw it we cook it” restaurant story that caught the attention of Japanese bloggers and 2channers back in May. They got fired up about WaiWai sullying the reputation of their beloved country overseas, and from there the mass media caught wind and ran with it.

As reported in Japan Probe, the Mainichi acted all shocked and stunned, as if they had no idea WaiWai even existed, closed down the site, apologized in Japanese and English, and even went so far as to punish the employees responsible for the column. The chief editor, an Australian named Ryann Connell, has become the outraged public’s whipping boy and is currently suspended for three months from his job and sequestered in his home with police protection after receiving a number of death threats, as reported in the Australian media.

Here’s my take on the whole situation. WaiWai should have been shut down years ago. Republishing tabloid articles under the Mainichi name lent credibility to the articles that were most likely complete fabrications. I used to visit the site a few times a year simply because the articles were painful to read, which is kind of fun in an intellectually masochistic kind of way. They painted a picture of Japan very different from the Japan I know from living here. A news outlet like the Mainichi shouldn’t be in the business of publishing stories in a column where a small percentage of them are true and the rest are tabloid trash without any kind of disclaimer attached to the unsourced articles. In the end, the company got what it deserved–a whole lot of bad publicity and a mass exodus of their advertising sponsors.

Chain mail causes headache for Japan Red Cross, Tokyo Hospital

There’s a chain mail message making the rounds in Japan claiming that a three year old girl with leukemia at the Showa University Hospital in Tokyo can’t receive a life-saving operation because there isn’t enough type B rh negative blood. Both the Japan Red Cross and the hospital have been receiving so many calls that they both put up notices on their web sites saying that the mail is bogus. What’s more, the hospital’s message says that even if the child was a patient, they’d be legally restricted from revealing that information.

When I was growing up, all we ever did was make crank calls and tape record them. It never made headlines, but we laughed ourselves silly listening to them over and over for months.


Here’s the original heart-wrenching message:

〇〇 〇〇子!

What I don’t get is why a message like this serves as a call to arms to hundreds of people willing to help, but if you stand a 80 year old woman on crowded train, everyone who’s sitting down ignores her.

Pinhead posts death threat for LOLs, gets arrested

I don’t know how many people are familiar with popular websites in Japan, but 2ch is the most widely used online forum. The interface is absolute crap, but that’s par for the course when it comes to Japanese websites. Check out the Wikipedia article for more info. It’s pretty interesting, especially the story about Densha Otoko.

On the first of this month a 23 year old vagrant used his cell phone to post a message on 2ch saying that he was going to kill an elementary schoolgirl in Chiba Prefecture on Feb 15 at 3pm. As a result, over 15,000 community volunteers and parents in Chiba were mobilized to ensure the safety of children going to and from the nearly 1,300 schools in the prefecture. When the police tracked down the person who posted the threats, he said he wrote the messages because he thought the replies were funny. The authorities disagreed.


Another link, so you can see what a typical 2ch thread looks like.

If you want to see how far and wide his threats reverberated through the net, Google this:  千葉の女子小学生を2月15日15時に殺しちゃいます

Monthly Bloggers’ Meetup in Tokyo

Me trying to look olderStill no news to report from me. I work, I go home, lather, rinse, repeat. Next month, I turn 40 years old. It’s not fair. Not so long ago I was a teenager trying to grow a mustache in an attempt to look older. I can’t figure out what I did that was so horrible as to deserve this fate.

I don’t feel 40. I don’t think I look it either. People my age don’t look young anymore. They’re covered with wrinkles and cellulite and have specks of gray in their thinning hair. But at least they tend to have their stuff together. My stuff is lying in piles around the house. Am I allowed to have a middle aged crisis now? Because I think I’ve already starting having one. A very quiet one. Mostly. Until right now.

Changing the subject to the subject of this post, a bunch of bloggers who live in and around Tokyo meet at The Dubliners’ Irish Pub in Shibuya on the third Wednesday of every month at 7 pm. That’s tomorrow. I will be there, and I will drink (but not smoke) and probably moan a little about turning 40 because it stinks, although it’s not as bad as the alternative, which is dying.

And if anyone makes fun of me for getting old, I will beat them senseless with my stainless steel walker.

Crimes by foreigners on the rise in Japan

It sounds like there’s at least one policeman in Tokyo who wants to attribute as many crimes as possible to foreigners, according to a comment that was left on my blog a few days ago:

 …several years ago we spotted a ‘Peeping Tom’ on our balcony watching my wife undress (on the 13th floor!) She said she had been followed home from the train a few times and felt like she was being watched in the past. I chased the guy down the street, but he got away. In my statement I told the police it was a Japanese man, but they said that was impossible – a Japanese man would NEVER do such a thing. They said he must have been Filippino. I told them I’d spent much time in the Philippines and the perv definately was not Filippino. The police then told me I probably couldn’t tell a Japanese man from a Korean, so they altered my official statement to say “he was an Asian man, possibly Korean.”

I don’t know why else he would claim there’s no such thing as a Japanese peeping tom. All he’d have to do is check their arrest records or go to any store that sells adult DVDs and see their collection of nozokiya videos. Maybe it was his first day on the job…

Another post deleted.

I deleted the last podcast because the HFJ editorial staff (my mother) thought I gave out far too much personal information. And I gotta do what my mother says. It’s an involuntary reaction.

BTW, I won’t be able to go to the video blogger event tomorrow night at the Pink Cow. My company is holding a going away party that night for a coworker who left the company at the end of last month. The nicest thing I can say about him leaving is that things won’t be the same without him.

Tokyo event: Video Blogging Night and Sanyo Xacti Touch-and-Try

WhenTuesday, December 4, 2007, 7 – 10pm
WhereThe Pink Cow, Shibuya (
Cost2,000 yen (Includes light buffet and chance to win one of 2 Xacti digital video cameras)

Andrew Shuttleworth, an Irishman who knows absolutely everyone in Tokyo (and I’m not exaggerating), is hosting this event in conjunction with Sanyo. Yukako “Tajee” Tajima, a bilingual video blogging major babe and businesswoman, will be giving a presentation on ways to put videos online.

I’m hoping it won’t be well attended because they’re giving away two Xacti digital video cameras and dammit, I want one. The fewer people who show up, the better my chances of winning the lottery. So stay home that night.

Well, at least I’m famous…

Tonight Robert Sanzalone told me that he saw my name mentioned in a book about podcasting. I did an Amazon search and found two books:

Page 267:

Rich Pav is your average, ordinary blogger, making his way through the not-so-average or ordinary Land of the Rising Sun. In Herro Flom Japan (, Rich frames his various travels and encounters with the history, culture, and people of Japan in his own unique point of view

Page 97:

Rich Pav, the evil mastermind behind Herro Flom Japan, takes the tech and chit-chat formula to another level by combining it with his observations on living in Japan. Rich doesn’t have any claims to being the first, the best, the most authoritative — in fact he doesn’t claim anything — his podcasts instead being more of a stream of consciousness, usually preceded by the term ‘I feel a podcast coming on’. Or as he puts it, “My bunions are tingling. Every time that happens, a podcast spews forth from deep inside me. Kinda like that movie Alien.’ The latest development is the addition of a video feed called The Herro Flom Japan Video Clip Chumbucket, which he admits isn’t really good enough to send out, ‘but at the same time it’s a shame to just throw it away’. Offbeat, oft understated, and often funny

…and then the prick author goes and posts the RSS URL to the invite-only HFJ Chumbucket. Hey, he posted my stuff without permission, I’m paying him back, right here, right now. (Actually, I don’t mind. There are many far more important things in life to get upset about. And from now on, that feed will point to Funnelgirl.)

Funnelgirl beats goatse and tubgirl hands down

I’m torn between keeping this to myself or sharing it. But what the heck, it’ll definitely increase my hits from Google.

I just challenged myself to the new reigning champion of the absolute worst the Internet has to offer so you don’t have to. DO NOT search for and watch this video. You have been warned. It will make you puke. It is the Antichrist, multiplied by infinity. JUST. SAY. NO.

I watched this a few minutes ago. I couldn’t make it to the end. I barely made it to the bathroom, and when I did, I didn’t want to be anywhere near a toilet, so I just puked in the sink. Grossest thing ever. —a random Funnelgirl viewer.

Update: Remember when I said Google loves me? It’s been less than eight hours since I wrote this post and I’m already ranked #3 for funnelgirl. And I want to make this perfectly clear: I’m scarred for life. My 39 year old innocence, permanently shattered. (Link)