オズのアホ使い

 考えRooの母国であるオーストラリアでは、国名を省略して「オズ」と呼ぶことがある。

 偶然に、考えるRooの生き方は馬鹿な言動が中心となっていた。

 つきましては、「オズのアホ使い」と呼ばれても全然問題ないと思う。

 具体的なことを言えないが、分かる人は分かる。いくらでも成功する機会が与えられ、裕福になれてもおかしくない過去があった。

 しかし、貧乏で終わって、キャリアも何もならなかったというかキャリア事態はなかったというほど達成感がない。しょうがない。

 それはそれでも変えられない。このもんだ。それでも十分。というか、これで満足しています。「オズのアホ使い」らしい生き方をして、最後までもそうだろう。

 結局、考えRooはもう少し考えるべきだったかもしれない。

Reminiscing: The First Time Australia Mattered in Kangaeroo’s Japan

How the now defunct Daily Yomiuri reported on Australian politics in Japan in 1991.

Kangaeroo has lived in Japan since the late ’80s, just as the Showa Era (reign of Emperor Hirohito from 1926-1989) drew to a close.

Japan back then had possibly an even stronger fascination with English than it does even today, especially as it was far less accessible in a slower, less connected world.

But English and overseas meant America and Japan had an obsession for the United States. Occasionally, news would filter through from other powers, such as then recently reunited Germany, France, Italy, Britain and the crumbling Soviet Union and Russia.

It was rare, pretty close to unheard of, really, for Australia to attract much attention in a Japan then apparently poised to overcome the U.S. as the world’s leading economy.

So unheard of, actually, that when Oz did make news, it was enough for Kangaeroo to grab a copy of the English paper from a kiosk at Shibuya Station. And keep it for more than 30 years!

Paul Keating had just successfully challenged Bob Hawke as prime minister and took over leadership of a country in a deep recession. Here’s how the Daily Yomiuri reported the matter in its lead story for the December 20, 1991 edition.

Paul Keating New Premier Of Australia

SYDNEY (AP) – Australian Prime Minister Bow Hawke’s record eight-year reign ended Thursday when he was deposed by his former deputy, Paul Keating, in a Labor Party coup.

Keating’s victory was the culmination of two years of bitter rivalry between Australia’s two most powerful and charismatic politicians.

Hawke, whose standing with the public and fellow party members had tumbled along with the economy, called a special meeting of the Labor Party’s 110-member parliamentary caucus to decide the leadership issue which has split the party and divided the nation.

In a procedural move preceding a planned confidence vote, Hawke resigned and offered himself for reelection. Keating, who quit as treasurer when he failed in his first challenge on June 3, won the secret ballot 56-51. Three party members were not able to attend.

“It’s a very humbling experience, and I feel the poignancy of the moment,” Keating said as he emerged from the caucus room.

“The thing the government must do is get coinfidence in Australia going again…confidence of the people and confidence in the business community,” Keating told reporters later.

For his part, Hawke seemed on the verge of tears at a news conference but also joked with reporters. “I fought the good fight. The fight is over,” Hawke said.

“If this was 11 years ago, I’d be getting pretty thoroughly drunk,” the former world champion beer drinker-turned-teetotaler said when asked what his immediate plans were.

“I leave the prime ministership proud of my accomplishments. The Australia of 1991 is a profoundly better place than the one in 1983 that I inherited…more tolerant, more compassionate, more competitive.”

Hawke congratulated Keating and vowed to support him.

Keating launched his bid for leadership claiming Hawke had promised to stand down as prime minister after the election in March 1990.

Keating (left), meeting with then Emperor Akihito during a meeting at the Imperial Palace in September 1992.

That would have given Keating enough time to settle in before leading the party into the next parliamentary election, which legally must be held by 1993. The party winning the most seats also win’s the prime minister’s seat, with the party leader becoming the prime minister.

Among Keating’s first duties will be to host U.S. President George Bush’s visit to Australia on Dec. 31-Jan. 3. He also faces the daunting task of healing the deep wounds that Labor has suffered from the leadership struggle.

Calls for more forceful leadership have become increasingly strident as the economy wallows in recession. Figures released last week showed that unemployment climbed to 10.5 percent in November, the highest since World War II.

The Labor Party, already suffering from sinking popularity, has fallen further behind in the polls in the weeks since the opposition coalition announced plans for a major revamp of the tax system.

Hawke recently fell behind opposition leader John Hewson for the first time in opinion polls. The man who once boasted a 75 percent approval rate has seen it plunge to around 25 percent.

The party has badly missed the 47-year-old Keating in a Cabinet role. While viewed as somewhat cold and sometimes brutal to antagonistic questioners, his uncompromising and forthright style as treasurer won respect from the international finance community.

The leadership issue has been simmering since Keating’s first challenge on June 3 and came to a head last Thursday when a group of six Cabinet ministers, all strong supporters of Hawke, met with their leader to suggest he quit.

Keating (left) meeting with then Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama during a visit to Japan in 1995

Keating would go on to lead Australia for the next five years, including an election win that was totally unexpected and increased Labor’s majority in 1993. He became a strong advocate of Australia fostering closer relations with Asian nations, including Japan, and remains so to this day. Keating lost the prime ministership to John Howard in 1996 and Australia would lurch strongly to the right and cling ever closer to the Anglosphere in a trend that remains pretty much unabated to this day. Keating’s pro-Asian stance would also usher in the racist Pauline Hanson, a polarizing figure and apparent far-right extremist when she emerged on the scene as a member of the Liberal Party in the mid-1990s, her views as leader of her own party, One Nation, are now regarded as almost mainstream. Indeed, Mark Latham, a former Labor Party leader once strongly likened to Keating, has become her closest and most outspoken political ally. Howard was strongly criticized as prime minister when he refused to condemn Hanson’s racism.

Hawke and Keating would patch up their differences and resume their strong friendship, which held until Hawke died in 2019. The recession that ended Hawke’s leadership and led to the Keating era was over the quarter the news reported above. Australia’s economic growth would continue uninterrupted for over 110 quarters until the pandemic hit.

Japan and Australia have since 1991 built an extremely strong relationship that it becoming even closer as the two countries deal with the looming threat of China.

Nonetheless, news of Australia remains a rarity in Japan, largely relating the annual bushfire season and occasionally a prime ministerial or sporting visit. But Australia is an undisputedly more significant presence in the Japan of 2022 than it had been in 1991.

オーストラリア最大恐竜がエロマンガに

エロマンガの恐竜オブジェ

 オーストラリアの最大恐竜がエロマンガにあった。

 本当。

 下品なことを考えってんじゃねぇよ!エロマンガはオーストラリア先住民の言葉で「風がよく吹く平野」という意味だそう。

 エロマンガは、北部クイーンズランド州にある小さな村です。石油とオパール鉱業が中心となっている人口約40人の村である。

海から最も遠く離れている町を豪No.1のエロマンガ

 1990年代までエロマンガ有名なことはオーストラリア内で海から最も遠く離れている町ということだった。(今でもそうと主張しているが、そうじゃないという人もいます。)

 いずれにせよ、クイーンズランド州都ブリスベーンから約1,000キロ西の方に置かれている。

 1994年にチャリ乗りの少年が化石を見つけて、以降次から次へ恐竜の化石が発見された。

 2007年にみつかった化石が今までオーストラリアで最も大きいな恐竜のものだった。

 その恐竜がティタノザウルス類の一種であり、エロマンんがの恐竜がクーパーと名付けられた。

 しかし、名前は名前なので、当然にエロマンガという村が日本に注目を浴びた。

 数多くの日本のエロ漫画や普通の漫画もエロマンガの話が出ています。

ティタノザウルスがエロマンガに存在した風景

 その中は「ニニンがシノブ伝」、「サムライフラメンコ」というまでもなくオーストラリアで児童ポルノとして禁じられている「エロマンガ先生」がある。

 今、エロマンガに恐竜研究が励んでいる。

 2017年に開館したエロマンガ自然博物館が運営しているが、コロナ禍で苦しんでいるだろう。

 それでも、間違いなくエロマンガがオーストラリア恐竜研究・跡地の最前線にひとつということはまちがいない。

 これからもエロマンガにますます期待できるだろう。

 

 

 

クロス・コーヒーに感謝

 クロス・コーヒーは、東京多摩地区の矢野口にあるサイクリストに大変人気なコーヒーショップである。

 昔は常連だったが、引っ越ししてあまり行かなくなった。

 正直に言うと、最高な評判ほどいい店だと思わなかったです。

 値段が割高で食べ物が美味しくても微量で食べても食べても食べたりない気持ちだけでいっぱいになった。

 でも、スタッフもいいし、仲間もそこで集まるので、とってもいい面もあった。

 だが、今日は、考えRooがクロス・コーヒーに大変助けられ、心底から感謝しています。

 昼のライドはデスマシンであるタイガー車で乗ることにした。ちょっと春らしい天気となって、スピードが出せないリカンベントに乗れる時間があったので、行こうとした。「ツールを持っていけ」と自分に何回も言い聞かせた。ツールがいつもタイガー車となりに泊めているチャリにおいてあるので、わざわざ前に持っているバッグを持ってツールを入れようと思ったが、忘れた。よくあることなので、意識もしなかった。

 しかし、約10キロ走ったら、前輪が揺られはじまった。

タイガー車

 「くそ!」

 すぐに分かった。パンク。また、面倒くさい前輪だ。

 「くそ。本当にくそ!」

 しかし、クロスが近かったので、道具も空気入りも使えると思って、押し歩いて。

 店につくとタイヤレバーを借りようと思ったが、販売品しかなかったので、買わされた。金欠なので、ちょっと不満だったが、気持ちよく支払った。

 ここからクロスのすごさが表れた。

 持って行ったインナーチューブが別のサイズのホイール用だった。クロスが求めているサイズを売っていない。おまけ、前輪を外したが、また取りけられない。リカンベントの難しいところの一つ。

 でも、クロスの店長であるトニオさんがその時間を上手く活用して頂いた。

 あっちこっちの自転車屋に電話しまくって、チューブがるところを探していただいた。

 場所を地図上で教えて頂いて歩いた。遠くないはずから歩いて10分のところ自転車屋を探してが見当たらない。

 「この辺にあるはずだ」と思いながら、可愛くて若い女性に声をかけられた。

 「すみません。クロスのものですが。自転車屋を探していますよね。」

 「ええ」

 「あの、すみませんが、多分方向が逆だと思います」と礼儀正しく言われた。

 その方がわざわざ考えRooをおっかけて、ちゃんと探していたところまで誘導して頂きました。

 その自転車屋さんはアトリエフルーブでした。珍しいサイズのチューブもスペースをよく食うリカンベント修理できる場所も空気入り貸して頂きました。今度、ゆっくりと店を見ます。

 数分立ったら、タイガー車がちゃんと治って急いで帰ることが出来た。

 とっても感謝しています。さすがに日本人のサービス精神も優しさをさらに実感出来ました。

 天気も良かったので、恵まれた一日となった。サイクリングが最高!

 

Pushing Pedals in an Exploration to Find Tokyo’s Myriad Monsters

Befitting the world’s largest city’s proclivity for being destroyed – and saved – over and again on almost countless occasions over the past several decades, Godzilla is an almost ubiquitous presence in Tokyo.

Godzilla can be found roaming in several parts of Tokyo, from the leafy suburbs of Denenchofu right in the central hub areas of Shinjuku, where he peers over the Kabukicho entertainment district, to the posh shopping area of Hibiya.

Inspired by Tokyo Time Out’s feature from last summer on the 10 monsters you’ll meet in Tokyo, Kangaeroo finally got on the bike and headed out to check out the creepy colossuses dotting Tokyo’s streets and parks.

Godzilla is probably the quintessential Japanese monster, so gets first write-up. Godzilla statues can be found in many areas associated with Toho, the film studio that first gave birth to the creature.

Toho Studios has a huge mural and a statue dedicated to its most famous monster. Godzilla also looms over cinemas in central Tokyo.

Godzilla in Hibiya
Hibiya’s Godzilla viewed from a safe spot
Godzilla looms over Kabukicho

Godzilla has a long-term rival in King Kong, dating back to the early 1960s in Japan, and also prominent in Hollywood. Although not specified as such, considering the enormity of the beast, it’s little surprise that the gigantic ape also occupies a prime position in Tokyo’s annals of monsters.

King Kong-like giant apes can be found along Setagaya-dori, an arterial road leading into central Tokyo from the western suburbs.

Setagaya-dori’s gorilllas

The first Kong adorns a glasses store. There are actually two gorillas, one with a headband, holding a lovebug and sucking on a cigar, and the other an apparent offspring bearing a flag urging road users to drive safely, somewhat ironic considering how much of a distraction it is on the busy road.

The next great ape is a few kilometers further down the same road in Sangenjaya, a mini-hub from the suburbs on the road into the Tokyo sub-center of Shibuya and meeting point for Route 246, a prime road in Tokyo that also heads out of the capital toward Odawara, Hakone and Mount Fuji.

Sangenjaya’s great gorilla sits atop a convenience store in a bustling shopping street leading off the main route. It holds a a woman in its hands and a smaller gorilla also adorns the entry to the building.

Sangenjaya gorilla

The reason for the existence of these gorillas has apparently been lost in the annals of time. They appear to be a relic of Japan’s booming postwar decades when there was money to throw around on advertising that would stand out from the crowd. There are “gorilla buildings” across Japan, and not just these examples from Tokyo.

Speaking of throwing money around, few do so better than Roppongi Hills, a center of wealth in Tokyo, and home to some monsters (including Goldman-Sachs, possibly one of the most hideous monsters of all). Maman is a spider-like sculpture on permanent display, while coincidentally there is currently also an array of pocket monsters on show.

Other monsters on the trip were in somewhat nondescript parks.

Tire Park in Ota-ku in the southern part of Tokyo has a collection of huge monsters made from tires. The monsters include dinosaurs and a robot.

Finally, not far from the ancient temple of Jindaiji, there’s a small park in Chofu dedicated to the animation of Shigeru Mizuki’s famous Gegege no Kitaro, a delightful story of spirit monsters. The film version was produced in Chofu and allegedly set in the area, and the city responded by creating the park, which is hugely popular among the young, and the young at heart.

All in all, the Tokyo Monster Ride was a fabulous trip, and could be even more enjoyable if taken along back roads on bike paths instead of the sometimes hairy routes that Kangaeroo rode.

Would love to go around in milder weather. Moreover, there are still plenty of other monsters to find, in addition to live-sized robots and all sorts of kitsch culture in Tokyo. Warmer months could be fun.

Beautifully Breaks the Tama River Morning

Mornings can be hard to get up for, particularly in the cold and dark of winter.

Yet, some things make it worth waking early for.

Waking, then moving, can be a great way to start the day.

It can get the body working and warmed up before the mind takes over, or even put the mind in a decent space.

In Kangaeroo’s case, it’s handy. The mind is rarely friendly.

Winter 2021-2 has not been particularly constructive.

Moved to a home last year, renovations kept it dark….for three months.

Work is not going well. Laid off three times in 2021. Not feasible to retire.

Bike breakdowns, and no replacement parts owing to supply problems.

Camera stops working and repairs cost as much as a new one.

Working extra jobs to try to recover lost income.

Can’t ride, can’t shoot, can’t avoid work. Darkness.

But the glorious mornings are worth waking for.

The gorgeous light as it breaks through the dark. The solitude. The serenity.

Make it all worthwhile.

Dekochari, Proud Member of Japan’s Itasha ‘Cringeworthy Cars’ Family

Long past their heyday, even in English-language coverage, dekochari, decorated bicycles, continue to survive in miniscule numbers even in today’s Japan.

Dekochari derived from the dekotora, decorated trucks, that became hugely popular throughout the archipelago in the 1970s on the back of the Torakku Yaro series of films, and which seem to be a symbol of Japan for some right through to this day.

Dekochari are ordinary bicycles adorned with flashing lights, blaringly loud horns, flags, chrome panels, mirrors and assorted other ornaments.

Most of the dekochari are handmade by kids too young to get a license, and many are crafted by those aspiring to one day drive a dekotora.

(Kangaeroo remembers plenty of dekotora on the roads in the late ’80s and early ’90s, but they are a rarity nowadays, at least in western and central Tokyo.)

Many of the dekochari aficionados are connected online at least, and pre-pandemic would sometimes take part in dekotora display shows.

There appears to be a market for dekochari merchandise anyway, with most online retailers catering to the hobby.

Dekochari are part of a much broader category of vehicle known as itasha: literally, cringeworthy cars. These are vehicles, mostly passenger cars, adorned with pictures of mostly favorite anime characters.

Itasha are hardly common, but are on the roads often enough to not be particularly noteworthy.

The ita of itasha is the adjectival form of itai, or painful, and refers to how the vehicles are painful to look at, painful on the wallet and painfully embarrassing.

Check out a gallery of dekochari accessible through links on this page.

Japan Has an Awesome Subculture of Gundam-Style Bikes