Thursday, July 28, 2005


Bad news for Kurume's residents - the central post office has closed its doors and doesn't show any signs of opening them. The 100 year old building, which has remained a testament to the city's determination and strength, was involed in a major incident on Saturday morning, which officials say is impossible to recover from.

At 9.43am, English-born high school teacher, Ken Misterken entered the branch to collect a parcel from his family in England. However, post office staff were unable to hand over the package, due to uncertainty about the identify of the recipient. "It's a complex, sensitive problem," claims post office chief, Shuryu Goroda, "but one of the major issues is that the gentlemen in question is on our records as "Misterken Ken", whereas the package is addressed to Ken Misterken. Naturally, we are unable to hand over the package, as he is clearly not who he claims to be."

Misterken, adopting a rather different view, told this reporter that "Mr Goroda's problem is about as complicated as a piece of overpriced bread with the crusts cut off." and that "it's bad enough that you can't buy envelopes in there, but now you have to sit around all morning because they think there are two people in this city with my name."

The problem posed by Mrken ended up bringing about the downfall of the city's most established institution, as executives got deeper and deeper into legal and bureaucratic wranglings. Mr Goroda made the solemn, simple announcement yesterday morning:

"Due to unresolvable difficulties beyond our control and a lack of sufficent manpower, I regret to inform you all that as from this moment, Kurume Central Post Office has ceased trading."

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


There was a fracas in the Kurume branch of electronics superstore DaiYama on Friday afternoon, when a foreign shopper accused a shop staff member of being "facetious and lacking any kind of common sense."

Kurume-based English teacher, Ben Treeskin, alleges that he asked DaiYama employee, Sato Kyojima, to show him their range of multi-region DVD players.

"He told me that no such thing existed in the world, and that I was mistaken," the Englishman fumed. "I politely told him that I have one in England and know for a fact that they are commonplace across The States and Europe, but he just kept saying the same thing."

Things turned bizarre moments later, when Treeskin found not one but three multi-region DVD players on display, some 10 feet from the rigidly unmoving Kyojima.

"I pointed them out to him, but he refused to look at them, first saying that he had something in his eye, and then, when I lifted the box to his face, he told me that the company had made a spelling mistake."

"I suppose writing 'THIS DVD PLAYER PLAYS ALL REGION DVDS!', 'ALL-REGION DVD PLAYER!' and 'ANY REGION OK!' instead of 'JAPANESE DVDS ONLY!' is an easy mistake to make," Treeskin added, dryly.

Monday, July 25, 2005


The bi-annual public forum survey results are in, and if popular opinion is anything to go by, Japan is facing a grim future. An astonishing 86% of the population feel that standards in Japan are "not OK", whilst only 14% think that standards in Japan are "OK". Reasons cited include: housewives not wearing aprons (41%), red and black bowls not being used for miso soup (57%), not enough food programs on TV (61%) and a shortage of Louis Vuitton accessories (82%).

The survey, which is compulsory for all Japanese citizens, contains 5 yes/no questions and 5 multiple choice questions, and has been proven as the the most useful survey of its kind, according to Japanese scientists. A full breakdown of the survey results will be published tomorrow.

Sunday, July 24, 2005


For female pensioners in Kyushu, Saturday night means only one thing - Wistfully Grows the Wishing Tree, the ever-popular Korean melodrama that has become a firm favourite following the axeing of Winter Sonata last year. However, last Saturday saw a program scheduling error that left broadcast controllers shaking their heads and the old ladies grumbling en masse.

Instead of the usual screening of the 3 and a half hour weekly show, TV station WTF inexplicably screened a three hour extreme lotion catfight from 1995. In desperation we can only imagine, old ladies from every corner of Kyushu hurriedly organised central Miso Soup Kitchens and spent much of the night talking about Wistfully Grows the Wishing Tree.

Ironically for TV station WTF, Saturday nights viewing figures were the highest since records began, and there were unconfirmed rumours that a schedule change could be on the cards. When this reporter asked WTF spokesman, Furakazu Morimoto, whether he was concerned about the possible backlash from fans, he replied, curtly: "Old ladies will complain whatever happens. We need to think of the ratings."

Friday, July 22, 2005


Maverick architect-cum-artiste, Same-chan Ichibishi, has "stepped over the line, with both feet," according to Kitakyushu residents opposed to his latest project. The 36 year old Kitakyushu native has drawn up plans to build a giant chess game over the city of his birth.

"I plan to personally oversee the construction of two vast marble schoolgirls, who will sit above our city in an epic battle of the board," Ichibishi said to the press yesterday. "The unique layout of Kitakyushu means that it can become the board in this game, with prominent buildings as some of the pieces. In fact, one of the schoolgirls will have her fingers on City Hall, preparing to move it to kings pawn five to consolidate her king side attack, as it were."

As the opposition gathers momentum, Ichibishi would be advised to remember his last project in the city, Paradise Beneath the Waves, which was universally derided and cost the artiste much of his family fortune.


Blossoms the Flower, the Fukuoka-set melodrama has swept onto Japanese national television, attracting rave reviews from local viewers and critics alike. The story centers around Umeko, a forty-something housewife struggling to cope with her absent, weak-minded husband and her overbearing mother-in-law and her sisters. Perhaps in an attempt to break into the Toyko-dominated melodrama scene, Blossoms the Flower's plot seems to closely follow the formulaic storylines of established classics Melody of the Pink Petals, Mother for All Time and F is for Family.

Local TV fan, Hanako Hori, from Ogori, said it is "very nice", and that the husband is "a lovely young man". Okawa resident, Suneko Tanaka said it is "very, very nice" and Yamato pensioner, Mariko Kaida, said that the husband is "a lovely young man with nice hair".

There was one negative review however. Kurume business owner, Norifumi Torininjin, was firm in his criticism of the show. "If I want to sit around and watch ugly women in aprons crying and eating, I'll stay with my inlaws," he said, rather bravely.


Yanagawa social club, The Practical and Useful Society, is celebrating one hundred years of memories today, and invites non-members to come along and join in the festivities. Club Chairman, Kune Akunio, promises an evening to remember, with name tag making, travel route analysis and practicing writing next years date on letters the pick of the activities. Admission is free.


Kumamoto's traditional July Art Competition opened yesterday morning, but what should have been a gentle appreciation of the pastoral arts was rocked by the late, unpopular entry of Shikazu Ginkami, controversial only child of former Kumamoto Mayor, Shinehide Ginkami.

Famously suspended from high school in 1996 for refusing to draw a red sun as opposed to a yellow one, and for sketching peaches the right way up on a plate, his entry - "Kurt Russell holding a pickled egg" - has set tongues wagging amongst the competition organisers and participants. Several ladies have threatened to boycott the competition if Ginkami's entry is allowed to be judged, and are prepared to take their 15 paintings of flowers somewhere else.

The organisers plan to make an announcement within the next few days.


Preparations are being made for the 402nd annual sports festival between local cities Kurume and Omuta, in a rivalry that goes back to the time of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Last year, Omuta pulled off yet another victory to reduce their arrears to a repectable sounding 196 - 206, bringing them their 10th straight victory.

Hisorically Kurume has always been marginally stronger, although it's modernisation and urban growth has hampered its prowess in recent times, and Omuta has prospered in the very local-minded games. Fukuoka city man Sho Akaboshi, this years Grand Score Keeper, provided some predictions for the festival. "Expect Kurume to dominate the more modern events - 'The Salaryman Teeth Sucking', 'The Beautiful Girl Overreacting to Mundane News', and 'Dressing like a Whore in the Dark' to name three. For the traditional events, Omuta seem stronger than ever and will be hard to beat. In particular, they are looking to set new records in 'The Reiteration of the State of the Weather', 'The Gratuitious Use of the Word Delicious', 'Open-mouthed Staring' and 'Identical Old Ladies in Identical Hats'. I predict a convincing win for Omuta yet again."

The festival begins on August 20th and concludes on the 31st.


A small Christian elementary school in Saga prefecture is facing legal proceedings and probable closure, after their annual school play landed them in some very hot water with local authorities. Staff and students of St Matthew's Elementary made a break with tradition by performing a stirring reimagining of the first James Bond movie, Dr No. Despite a standing ovation and unanimous praise for the piece, Headmaster Graham Tanks was shocked to learn that he was being taken to court for "gross negligence and disregard for public safety", in the words of the Saga Council.

According to them, the school's performance was "unnacceptable", because in the finale there was no designated assembly point when the klaxon went off. Tanks patiently explained that the original movie was similarly lacking an assembly point, but he couldn't sway the Council.

The trial is expected to begin in September.


Downtown Kurume was brought to a standstill on Wednesday, as protesters flocked to the streets in droves to protest the actions of a local girl. According to word of mouth, the girl in question, 25 year-old Yuko Tanushimaru, is responsible for all the chaos. "She referred to her mother in law's rice as 'good, really good' instead of the correct answer of 'delicious!!'. Understandably, people here are furious," seethed protester-in-chief, Suzuka Honda.

With traffic piling up and an angry mob forming, the police stepped in to break things up, and by 11 pm there were only a few dozen hardcore protesters left in a well-coordinated sitdown protest outside The Cakers Donuterie. "We will see justice served," Honda continued, defiantly, "this is an issue that won't and can't be brushed aside."

Tanushimaru was unavailable for comment.

Thursday, July 21, 2005


Local Kurume man JinjinchiroTakibashi was sent to Tosu gaol for six months this morning for "attempting to further the photographic development of candid communication", in the no-nonsense words of Chief Justice Sho Nekochan.

Takibashi had climbed into the crawlspace above the ceiling of what he thought was the ladies toilets in City Hall, and was planning to make use of his newly acquired digital camera and microphone. Unfortunately for Takibashi, the ceiling couldn't support his weight, and he fell through the thin plaster. To make matters worse, he had unwittingly taken a wrong turn in the crawlspace and was in fact above an adjoining annex room, where members of Kurume Police Station were attending an inhouse lecture on criminal behaviour. Takibashi falling onto their table with his camera was unexpected but rather apt in the circumstances.

Despite claims that he was a construction worker checking the building for structural damage, Takibashi was unable to convince either the stunned officers or the Chief Justice, the latter of whom summed up sentencing with the decidedly tongue-in-cheek aside: "You would be advised to watch your own bottom as closely in the coming months, Mr Takibashi..."


There was pandemonium at Toshitaka's World of Tea on Saturday, when two table legs were scuffed by "a gang of ne'er do wells". Toshitaka, proprietor of one of the most established tea stores in Kyushu, knew that something was amiss when two youths burst into his shop playing the smooth rock of Kenny Loggins.

"They had big hair and were carrying those keyboards that you play like a guitar, and both had ties that looked like a piano," the shaken owner told police.

Sergeant Miyo Chiori, of the Fukuoka Central Police Station, was quick to remind the public that 1987 has been banned since 2003, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. She also promised to do her best to catch the perpetrators and commiserated Toshitaka on his ordeal.

This isn't the first time something like this has happened. In January, three youths wearing jackets with their sleeves rolled to the elbow burst into Aww Chihuahua and subjected passersby to a synth-aided love ballad, avoiding capture when the police arrived the next day.

Shoppers are advised to stay alert and report any such behaviour to the proper authorities.


The Omuta branch of a well-known curry house chain has been slammed by a visiting foreign dignitary, who has charged the company with "gross bureaucracyism and babyish antics." England born Judge, Sir Gene Bammon, has vowed to start legal procedings against the curry chain, and make sure the same thing doesn't happen again.

On business in the sleepy town, Sir Bammon claims that he ordered a regular curry from the chef, but as he had eaten a substantial breakfast, asked that the rice be left out. The chef reportedly refused, quoting company regulation 25a, part 2, paragraph 4, that "(rice) shall be served with every meal of the curry variation, and shall be no less than 105g..."

Amused more than anything, Bammon agreed and was served with his curry, with the rice in a separate bowl, weighing exactly 105g. Bammon refused to eat the rice, but it seemed that the company's honour had been satisfied. It was only when Bammon came to pay that things took a turn for the worse.

According to Bammon, the chef charged him an extra 100 yen for the rice, which he refused to accept, on the grounds that he hadn't eaten it and didn't even want it in the first place. The chef's attempts to cite the company's manual were cut short as Bammon allegedly called the chef's parentage into question. The chef remained adamant, and by now a crowd of people had gathered to see what was going on. Being already late for an important engagement, Bammon claims he agreed to pay the bill, a not unreasonable 800 yen. Spying two 100 yen coins on the top of the cash register, Bammon gave the chef a 1000 yen note, and went to take the two coins. This is when things "went really salad", as an eye witness noted afterward.

The chef reportedly refused to let Bammon have the coins, and opened the cash register. He placed the note in the tray and closed the register. Then he opened the register again, picked up the two coins, placed them in the register and closed it. He then allegedly opened the register for a third time, took out the same two coins and handed them to an enraged Bammon, along with his receipt.

Having witnessed this, Bammon reportedly threw "something of a hissy fit" and "started tugging at his whiskers". The chef's integrity was called into question, and Bammon stormed out in a foul temper, only to return a few moments later to get his forgotten briefcase.

Whether or not the case goes to court remains to be seen.


A 28 year-old English instructor was arrested in Fukuoka on Friday for brawling with the owner of a popular coffee shop. Cerard Gaheny, an ex-pat from Ireland, "regarded the owner's ribs with his elbows and made poking motions at his left eye," an eye witness claims. Gaheny claims that his actions were brought on by the unacceptable behaviour of the shop owner, who, in the Irishman's words, "wants fucking milking".

The same eye witness reports that Gaheny asked for a coffee without cream, to which the shop owner said that they hadn't any cream, so would he like coffee without milk instead. Gaheny allegedly seemed angered by this and repeated his order, but the owner reportedly wouldn't back down and insisted that if he wanted his coffee, he would have to order it without milk, as opposed to without cream. Then the fighting began.

Mercifully, five policemen were walking past just seconds after the incident and were quick to break things up. After apologising profusely to the shop owner, they escorted Gaheny to Fukuoka Central Police Station, where he awaits charges. The shop owner refused to make any comment.