Category: Unknown Nichigo

Went Viral! (And Didn’t Have a Bloody Clue!)

It’s pretty clear my career is finished so one of my current greatest worries is how I am going to repay the mortgage on Kangaeroo Corner and, being grossly over-educated and severely lacking talent, becoming a YouTuber making viral videos has popped up in my mind as a way.

Given that I am paying serious thought to the above idea, it’s pretty clear I have no sense of reality.

So, it didn’t really come as a surprise to learn that I posted a video that went viral and I had no idea about it’s popularity until yesterday….10 1/2 years after the video went up.

The video was of a young Johnny Depp during a 1988 appearance on Hey, Hey, It’s Saturday, then one of Australia’s top rating TV shows (and led into by 21 Jump Street, the TV show that helped turn Depp into a heartthrob.

I can’t even remember the circumstances behind the original post, and I’m pretty sure YouTube gave me a copyright strike over this. But it all happened so long ago. Still, it was fun to find out.

Depp would, of course, go on to became a massive superstar. His career also seemed over a couple of years ago, but may not be done yet. Hey, Hey would run for another decade, ending a 30-year run in 1999 and then making a comeback a decade later only to end in ignominy amid accusations of racism. Ossie Ostrich, the pink bird in the photo with Depp above, was one of the co-hosts with Darryl Somers and a bevy of beauties through the years, and would end his run with the program with his reputation untarnished. This segment appeared just before I left Australia to visit Japan. Immigrate here, as it turned out, though that was never the intention until decades after it had happened and returning was not an option.

Click the link below to watch the video (as suspected, the copyright owner blocked embedding):

Johnny Depp Down Under on Hey, Hey, It’s Saturday

Original story from July 8, 2013: 若かりしジョニー・デップの珍しい豪訪問

Waltzing Matildas In The Land Of The Rising Sun

Waltzing Matilda is probably Australia’s most famous song and it’s certainly a tune that remains powerfully iconic of Down Under, but has not had the impact in Japan of other Aussie tunes, like say, Click Go the Shears.

That’s not to say that Matilda hasn’t made it’s mark.

However, like many things Japan, it’s legacy lies not quite in the way you’d expect.

My understanding is that Waltzing Matilda is probably best known in Japan for being the jingle used to open Japanese language shortwave radio broadcasts on Radio Australia, which ended in 1990, so there’s a fair chance that my guess is well out of date.

Three-piece rock band The50kaitenz used the tune and undoubted influence of Waltzing Matilda on their song, Machiruda to Tabi wo, released on their 4th album in 2018. It didn’t chart.

But a much deeper influence was made upon performer Naohiro Tsurube, who used the stage name Odorou Machiruda (a translation of waltzing Matilda) with quite a degree of success in the 2010s before going on hiatus in 2019 (and performing under his real name since, apparently).

One of Odorou Machiruda’s songs is even called Odorou Machiruda, and though it’s not a Japanese version of the song symbolic of Australia, the influence is apparent.

Sheer Nonsense? No, Shear Delight!

Australia hasn’t really had much of an impact on Japanese culture over the years, but there is one case that inspires sheer delight….or perhaps that should be “shear?”

For Japanese of a certain age, 調子をそろえて、クリック、クリック、クリック (Choshi wo soroete kurikku, kurikku, kurikku, is a highly familiar song picked up in an early season of Minna no Uta, a radio and TV program broadcast by NHK since 1961 to introduce new tunes to the Japanese public.

The song is known in English as Click Go the Shears and Peggy Hayama, who sang the Japanese version of the song with lyrics written by Takashi Otowa, would retain a lifelong connection with Australia because of it.

Ironically, her version of the song was originally a B-side to a 1962 release, but became a hit after NHK picked it up for Minna no Uta. It became a roaring success after being re-released as an A-side in 1963, and resurfaced in 2022 when broadcast to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the program being on air.

Hayama had a series of hits in the 1950s and 1960s, many being Japanese language covers of English songs, perhaps most notably being the Japanese version of Do-Re-Mi from The Sound of Music and Que, Sera, Sera, the lyrics in the latter also penned by Otowa.

Hayama made considerable contributions to the fine arts, receiving honors from the Ministry of Education and an Order of the Rising Sun medal. She died aged 83 in Tokyo in 2017. Her legacy lives on with a touch of Australia.

Goodbye Possums…

Dame Edna in kimono

Barry Humphries, the creator of characters such as Dame Edna Everage – the Moonee Ponds housewife famous for her flamboyance and shouted greeting of “Hello Possums” – Sir Les Patterson and Sandy Stone, and himself an entertainer and icon of Straya in many parts of the world, has passed away.

Humphries died aged 89 on Saturday following complications from a recent hip surgery.

Personally, I wasn’t a great fan of the Moonee Ponds housewife — Dame Edna Average is my name for her — but she had her moments and was a wonderful example of Humphries’ acerbic, anti-Establishment wit that Australian author Kathy Lette described this morning as his brilliance at “pricking pomposity.”

For me, Humphries’ Sir Les Patterson was a much funnier figure than Dame Edna with his vulgar Ockerism, food-stained unfashionable suits, dalliances with lovely young secretaries and crude, booze-swilling antics a much more biting depiction of life Down Under than the gladiola-waving housewife. At least that was how I saw it, and my judgements of the characters as I knew them until I left Australia in the late ’80s.

Humphries was born into a wealthy family and had a privileged upbringing, but spent his career making a mockery of the Establishment. I shared his progressive political views and he, like me, was a recovering alcoholic, which helped me identify with him. I guess we didn’t see much of his alcoholic nature, but his four marriages and complicated family relations seem to attest to the typical struggles addicts have in getting along with others.

Dame Edna in kimono

Poor Humphries was vilified by gender fanatics in his later years, who campaigned to have the Melbourne Comedy Festival’s Barry Awards renamed because of Humphries’ dismissal and smeared his name. He did not deserve that and I hope his legacy will be view fondly rather than being put in a falsely negative light.

Humphries and his characters didn’t really have much to do with Japan, with much of his humor tough to translate. He is possibly best known here for his stint playing Dame Edna in the dying days of the hit ’90s TV show, Ally McBeal.

I was surprised to see his fame was good enough to get him a Japanese language obituary on Yahoo News Japan this morning, Japan’s most-widely read mainstream news source.

Humphries gave an account of his mother’s love for Japan in the poignant essay, Mummy, I Hardly Knew You. Here is what he had to say:

In the winter of 1958, my parents and my Auntie Elsie embarked on a world cruise. The highlight of this for my mother was Japan, the last place I expected her to enjoy. Its standards of cleanliness must have met with her approbation. They went only to grand hotels and my mother must have enjoyed the women’s exotic attire.

Yahoo Japan news reports on Humphries’ death (via Jiji.com), April 23, 2023

Dame Edna certainly made a trait of exotic attire. I’m not sure of contemporary Oz, but for the Australia that I knew, Humphries, or at least his characters, were an iconic part of the country and even if feelings about him were not particularly strong, they invariably existed for everyone, much in the same way that Jesus has an ubiquitous place in the thoughts of Americans.

I will miss Humphries’ in-your-face humor, and his subtle wit even more. And I will lament even further the demise of the era in which he thrived. But I thank him for what he gave. And for what he didn’t.

Sending a Message

Gokokuji Temple

Alright, I hadn’t known this before, but when I arrived in Japan in the mid-1980s, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I stayed in Bunkyo-ku, not far from Gokokuji Temple.

Unbeknown to me at the time, and not until today, in fact, right around the same time, Australia’s biggest band, and then one of the hottest acts globally, INXS, had also filmed the music video for their hit, I Send a Message, at the same temple.

Japanese crow

I’d come to Japan with few expectations, but among the images I had were those from a couple of INXS videos from around the time.

I had no idea that it had been so close. Gokokuji was the first temple I ever visited in Japan.

Australian crow

To this day I remember two things from the visit….sponsorship signs from Hitachi (at the time, Japan was still in the midst of the bubble era and appeared poised to become the world’s largest economy); and the Japanese crows.

The size and fierce countenance of the birds took me back, especially as I had found Australian crows to be quaint.

INXS – I Send a Message

I’ve grown to love crows now, but I can still remember that seeing my first Japanese crow gave me a bit of a shock.

The other INXS video from the era, incidentally was for Original Sin, for which there were two versions made, actually.

INXS – Original Sin (mainstream version)

One of these featured dekotora, which were still then a comparatively common sight on Japanese roads.

INXS – Original Sin (alternate version)

These videos were shot in the Oi Wharf area.

Although I stayed near Gokokuji for about a year, I never really went back after that first visit. I’ve never forgotten it, though (maybe because it also gave its name to the subway station I most frequently used). I remember the huge crowds lining up for miles to go there for Yutaka Ozaki‘s funeral a couple of years later, and a kyoiku mama who murdered a little girl who made her daughter look bad at a kindergarten in the area in the late 1990s.

Up There, Kazari!

Australian Sports Day was a fantastic event held at Komazawa Olympic Park yesterday, and I got to go and enjoy some of the proceedings that were a decorative display, (or should I say kazari?), of some of Down Under’s favorite pastimes.

The day itself was a ripper, starting with explanations, demonstrations and games of cricket, moving on to games of footy and then ending with a netball exhibition, with sales of Aussie foods, wear and fare such as meat pies and banana bread and cuppas from Club Australia‘s Tad Watanabe and the Australia Cafe van.

Needing to deal with duties in the garden and home and able to enjoy lunch with Mrs. Kangaeroo and our pet dinosaur, I was late starting out, but still got to see the last half of the final game of footy.

It was an entertaining match and the skill level was fantastic!

The fast-paced game was good to watch despite the swirling wind making judgment in the air a difficult proposition that challenged even the most skillful players.

A memorial to the Komazawa Golf Club, which had originally been planned as the main stadium for the cancelled 1940 Tokyo Olympics (Aussie plant <bush rosemary> planted beside it, too!)

I stayed for some of the netball, but it was getting cold and dark and I needed to get home as I was riding the Death Machine, on which my average speed tends to drop by about 5kmh compared to a roadbike.

Being close by, however, I took advantage to drop by Punk Doily and say g’day to Kif for the first time in a while.

Along the way, I found the marker commemorating the old Komazawa Gol Club, where the park is now located, but which is notable for having been slated as the main stadium for the 1940 Tokyo Olympic Games, which ended up being cancelled.

Kif has Punk Doily looking fantastic, having added a rooftop terrace and plenty of Aussie plants decorating the diner. His food was tremendous! I partook of a scrumptious lamb sausage roll and salted caramel brioche donut. It was top notch stuff, and wonderful to see how Kif’s business is doing so well. He has worked like a dog to get it this far and I look forward to seeing Punk Doily become even bigger.

Coming home was a really pleasant ride despite being into a fierce headwind. I was glad to have ridden a recumbent as they are less susceptible to headwinds than upright bikes, but it was still a hard slog.

At times I felt like I was going to get blown off the bike, so put safety first and was delighted to make it home unscathed.

Riding along through the streets I was enjoying the fact that I would be getting some decent footage, which was also giving me good vibes.

Less pleasing, however, was making it home to discover that I hadn’t set my video camera to upside-down mode and that the battery had run out almost immediately after leaving Punk Doily.

A Bit of a Roo-ed Shock

Kangaroos are back in the Kangaeroo limelight

Kangaroos have always taken center stage in this blog (which I started almost 13 years ago to try to tap into the then recent introduction of Australian English into TOEIC testing), so it was a bit rare yesterday when I had the chance to write about roos but didn’t (albeit giving prominence to quokkas, another member of the marsupial family).

Yesterday, the Kangaeroos had a wonderful time at the Saitama Children’s Zoo, which has an Australian animal area., and attracted us because Mrs. Kangaeroo wanted to see its quokkas.

I know a lot of people aren’t too keen on zoos, but I love them, even though I feel for the poor captive animals.

I always console myself by saying that they are at least being freed form the savagery of life in the wild, even though that is the ideal reality and we should be looking to preserve ecosystems.

Anyway, enough of my pontificating.

Today, the macropodidae are front and center again, but kangaroos are back in the limelight.

Here’s a gallery of animals we saw at the zoo.