Natsukashii “Japan Trip” – When Magic ‘Shrooms Were Legal

Magic Mushrooms in Japan
Until June 2002 Magic Mushrooms were legal in Japan

Japan, despite its lax attitude toward tobacco and alcohol, has always been very strict when it comes to matters of “more illicit” drugs. Laws regulating soft drugs such as marijuana are as strict as those toward heroin and cocaine. This was not so until the American Constitution was imposed on Japan after World War II; actually hemp has been an integral part of Japanese culture and religion since ancient times (see for more details), but that is another article altogether.

Generally, restrictions on all drugs in Japan are so strong that it is not uncommon for customs officers to seize over-the-counter foreign cold medicines, and possession of cannabis can lead to weeks in jail. The most famous victim of this law is Continue reading

Big Boss Falls on Sword in Tokyo Yakuza Wars

Flowers at the scene of the Nishiazabu Yakuza Shooting 49 days agoThis is a follow up story to our earlier coverage of the Yakuza turf wars in Nishiazabu, Central Tokyo (we advise to read the first article for context before going on).

Next Wednesday will mark 49 days since Ryoichi Sugiura (杉浦良一), a director of the Sumiyoshi-kai (住吉会), a Tokyo Yakuza gang, was shot and killed around morning tea time on the sidewalk of the busy Roppongi Street in central Tokyo. In the Japanese Buddhist tradition, the soul of a dead man spends 49 days after the day of death uneasily straddling this life and the next, before a ceremony on the 49th day releases the soul. For the last couple of weeks, the streets of Roppongi have been eerily quiet, but the flowers at the scene of the crime are refreshed almost daily, with new messages from Sugihara’s Yakuza comrades Continue reading

Prison in Japan: Part 5 “Manga and Routine”

Mitsuko from Battle RoyaleThis is stippy’s fifth part in a series (see also parts 1, 2, 3 and 4) about one foreigner’s experience of being put in a Japanese prison (留置場 or “ryuchijyo”, a prison for locking up people for as long as 23 days until they are convicted, or cleared of a crime).

Below is the continuation of George’s story, and how he was processed in the Japanese legal system. For context, you should read the first, second, third and fourth parts of this series before continuing on with this fifth installment of George’s jail journal. Here again, George provides us with a laugh in his colourful account of his life on the inside – from two very different perspectives – letting us know about his new found interest in manga, and the drab daily prison routines that he was subjected to. Enjoy “Manga and Routine”.

From here, is taken straight from his journal (All names of people have been changed at George’s request): Continue reading

WaiWai: Wine bath for the nads, mud pack for the sack pledges heavenly pleasure

This article is reproduced from the discontinued, but much loved Mainichi Waiwai column by Ryann Connell. Read more about this at the bottom of this article.

Japan’s ever-inventive sex industry’s latest innovation is an adaptation of the facial — a mud pack for the penis, according to Spa! (3/27).

Authorities have in recent years taken a harder line on the flesh trade, prompting operators to come up with up an increasing variety of services aimed at providing pleasure but circumventing the long arm of the law.

Continue reading

J-WOTD: 居合 (いあい)

Rinko Kikuchi as a JyoshiKosei in the Movie “Babel”

いあい (iai)

* “J-WOTD” = “Japanese Word of the Day”

If you enjoyed the movie Babel / バベルの塔 (official English language site) as much as I did then I’m sure the first thing you did when you got home was to do a Google Search to find out who that unknown girl was playing the role of Chieko. While I’d heard of (and recognized) Yakusho Koji (役所広司), I hadn’t heard of Kikuchi Rinko (菊池凛子)before (official English language site).

Following the hype surrounding her Academy Award nomination, I had read a little about her in the press. Continue reading

An old Apple a day keeps Jobs-san away? Higuchi joins Microsoft Japan

new shacho at MSFT Japan - Yasuyuki HiguchiChanging jobs is always an emotional experience for the best of us, but what do you think was going through Yasuyuki Higuchi’s (樋口泰行) mind when he accepted the job of Microsoft Japan COO last week, switching Jobs in more ways than one.

While he was notably cagey at the press conference, it feels as though existing CEO, Darren Huston, has decided that he’s had enough of the land of the rising sun. Why else would Higuchi (who has recently served as the President of both Hewlett-Packard Japan and Daiei) accept the role of number two unless it came hand in hand with a guarantee of Continue reading