Bennelong-Swisswellness riders in the peloton at the 2018 Tour of Japan
The Tour of Japan 2018 ended Sunday in Tokyo with Spaniard Marcos Garcia of the Kinan Racing Team claiming the general classification title. Slovenian Grega Bole of Bahrain-Meridatook the Blue Jersey for the points classification.
Local hero Yuzuru Suzuki took the King of the Mountain crown riding for Utsunomiya Blitzen.
Australia’s own Chris Harper won the White Jersey for the tour’s best young rider while competing for Bennelong Swisswellness. Harper also finished 4th in the GC. Martin Laas of Team Illuminate took the final stage in Tokyo. Kinan Racing Team won the team classification, but it’s Bennelong Swisswellness that we’re interested in here.
Bennelong Swisswellness, in its various incantations, has taken part in the Tour of Japan annually since 2012 and have a strong record in the prestigious tour sanctioned by the UCI, with 5 stage wins. Bennelong-Swisswellness has been Australia’s strongest continental team for the past 8 years.
The team boasts some fabulous riders, many of them young, but also a veteran here and there who have achieved considerable success on the professional cycling circuit.
Australia has a long and proud record of cycling, punching well above its weight on the track and the road. Check out the gallery below to see some of the action from the eighth and final stage of the 2018 Tour of Japan in Tokyo on May 27, 2018.
Koshigaya, located some 30 kilometers from downtown Tokyo, and Campbelltown, which is situated about 50 kilometers from Sydney’s central business district, were almost made for each other, even if only serving as satellite cities for their respective countries’ largest cities.
Koshigaya and Campbelltown are sister cities and it’s hard to see a better example of the custom than the relationship between the Japanese bed town and its Aussie sibling. Koshigaya is also home to a picturesque corner of Australia, complete with wallabies, emus and some lovely wild birds, including rainbow lorikeets, superb parrots, Major Mitchell’s cockatoos, tawny frogmouths and kookaburras. The Campbelltown Forest of Wild Birds in Koshigaya could arguably be one of the Kanto Plains areas best-kept secrets.
Though only a small-scale park, the attraction is overall an excellent one as it gives a reasonably close view of some delightfully colorful (mostly) Australian birds in a fairly authentic aviary, the largest of its type in Japan.
Surrounding the aviary are plenty of gum trees, adding to the Down Under-flavor of the Saitama Prefecture city.
Koshigaya and Saitama became sister cities in 1984, one of the earliest formal relationships between local governments in Australia and Japan. The Campbelltown Forest of Wild Birds opened in 1995 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the sister-city relationship.
Campbelltown reciprocates with its Koshigaya Park, containing Japanese gardens.
Details of the Campbelltown Forest of Wild Birds in Koshigaya are as follows: Campbelltown Forest of Wild Birds(Japanese link)
272-1 Daikichi, Koshigaya, Saitama Prefecture, 343-0008 Open: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Closed Mondays, new year season holidays Entrance fees: Adults 100 yen, children (primary and middle-school students) 30 yen Related information on Koshigaya-Campbelltown ties Campbelltown-Koshigaya Sister Cities Association Campbelltown City Council page on sister city relations Campbelltown-Koshigaya Sister Cities Association student delegates arrive to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their relationship Campbelltown-Koshigaya friendship is 30 years young
Japanese have been legally eating kangaroo for longer than most Australians. Kangaroo meat was imported to Japan and being served in Tokyo restaurants from 1988, five years before meat from the national symbol was legalized for consumption by Australians in all states other than South Australia, where kangaroo could be eaten legally from 1980. (Indigenous Australians had continued eating kangaroo, a traditional food, regardless of the ban.)
Despite the head start, kangaroo meat never really kicked on in Japan, despite its reputation for being a healthy, high-protein, low-fat alternative to beef or pork. RooMeat was promoted in Japan as being a preferred choice of athletes and models, but the “stars” called upon to plug the meat were not household names. Moreover, the meat was promoted with the somewhat mysterious catch copy of “it’s tasty if you cook it.”
Kangaroo meat can still be purchased in Japan, probably most easily from The Meat Guy, purveyor of fine meats.
Kangaroo meat is also promoted as an environmentally friendly choice as kangaroos produce less methane than cattle.
Some people have also adopted kangatarianism, which is essentially a vegetarian diet that allows for the consumption of kangaroo meat. Japan’s kangaroo business was also involved in the kangaroo industry, which focuses around the marsupial’s leather, which is regarded as the strongest source of leather for shoes and gloves. K-Roo kangaroo meat promotions Premium kangaroo meat promotions
Strewth! It doesn’t get much worse than the latest KitKat concoction to hit Japanese stores, which arguably takes the title of world’s worst chocolate unofficially claimed by Australia when it produced Vegemite chocolate back in June 2015. KitKat Nodoame flavor is now selling at Japanese retail outlets and is the latest in a line of Japanese KitKat flavors that extends well beyond 200.
It should be noted, that ＜i>nodoame is the Japanese word for throat lozenge, and that’s exactly what’s been dished up in the latest KitKat…a throat lozenge flavored-chocolate!!!!
For what it’s worth, throat lozenge-flavored KitKat tastes exactly as it sounds, with your average cough lolly covered by waffle and coated in a layer of chocolate. The Nodoame KitKat is sold in a box adorned by a caricature of soccer commentator Yasutaro Matsuki cheering Japan on to its ultimately successful qualification for the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia (which it achieved by defeating Australia’s hapless Socceroos at Saitama Stadium 2002 on August 31, 2017).
The presumed use of Matsuki to promote the flavor is because his shouting for Japan precludes the need for a throat lozenge. Japanese KitKat Flavors (not a complete list…site in Japanese) Japanese KitKat flavors page 1 Japanese KitKat flavors page 2 Japanese KitKat flavors page 3
Vegemite chocolate ad from back in the day
Japan has a strange affinity when it comes to using Australian animals for its advertising.
A number of major Japanese corporations use koalas and roos to plug their products and services.
One with a difference is Hayashi Corporation, a construction company with a history of over 100 years and based in suburban Tokyo.
Hayashi Corporation’s Fuchu branch office entrance is adorned with photos of a family of cartoon kangaroos decked out in soccer gear, just like Australia’s national football team, the Socceroos. Japan’s next opponent in World Cup qualifying is Australia, but there’s no connection.
What is interesting to note, though, is that the kangaroos had been painted over until quite recently. They were restored after many years and now stand out prominently.
The reason for why this marsupial touch has been added to outer suburban Tokyo remains a mystery, though.
Turning the clock back 40 years, Japan played a crucial role in giving Australia a leg-up toward becoming a player in the global movie industry.
In late 1977, a couple of fledgling Australian filmmakers pooled their meager funds and shot a movie starring mostly unknown young actors and actual motorcycle gang members serving as extras.
Almost two years later, Mad Max opened Australian theaters and became a steady, but controversial hit. The car action movie was immediately banned in New Zealand as some of its motorcycle gang violence resembled actual events in the market most closely resembling Australia’s.
Australia’s movie industry was in the middle of a growing renaissance, backed by a generous government funding program and the emergence of a large number of talented directors and actors. Mad Max was made for a mere pittance in movie terms, costing just $350,000. Backed by the steady performance at the Australian box office, the movie’s first overseas sale was made to Japan, then a country where bosozoku motorcycle gangs were having their heyday. Mad Max became a massive hit in the world’s second-largest movie market. This Big in Japan success made overseas sales a much easier task and the movie was sold widely across the globe. It would be a slow burner that flared following the phenomenal success of its first sequel, Mad Max 2, released in 1981. The box office for Mad Max would eventually surpass $100 million and for more than two decades it would hold the world record for the greatest ratio between production cost and box office.
“Fist of the North Star”
These sales led to a sequel and opened the door for the actor in the title role,Mel Gibson, to become a global superstar (until he destroyed his career a quarter of a century later in a drunken rant about Jews followed by enraged verbal and allegedly physical attacks on the mother of his youngest child). Further sequels, Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, which came out in 1985, and 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road with Briton Tom Hardy playing the titular character. Mad Max created an enormous legacy that went much further than the sequels and Gibson turning into a Hollywood superstar. The effects were particularly strong in terms of Australia-Japan collaborations. The movie itself benefited greatly from Kawasaki, which donated all the motorcycles used in the film. But there was much more.
Drawing heavily from the Mad Max saga, the enduring Fist of the North Star would become one of Japan’s most successful manga in the 1980s and made stars of its writer, Buronsanand illustrator, Tetsuo Hara. Akira Kushida would get one of his early hits with Rollin’ into the Night, which played over the end credits of the Japanese version of the movie. As noted in the accompanying newspaper article from the May 10, 1982, edition of the Melbourne Age, the success of the early editions in the series would spark joint movie production efforts between Japan and Australia.
The article mentions a movie under production and entitled “The Southern Cross.” The first-ever joint Australia-Japan feature film collaboration would eventually come out later in 1982 with the new English title of The Highest Honor (it would remain under its original title in Japanese). That movie was quickly forgotten, but it is notable for being the debut movie of Hitomi Kuroki, still one of Japan’s most successful actresses to this day.