Here’s a music vid I chopped together for my friends, The Ed Woods. They’re a great, demented Japanese horror-themed punk/psychobilly band. They always put on an incendiary live show, so you should check them out if you get a chance.
Nice bag, missus!
In this climate of global financial crisis, it can’t be heartening to discover that the guy in charge of your country’s economy is a bumbling booze-hound. This was the case in Japan a couple of weeks ago, when the finance minister, Shoichi Nakagawa, showed up at a G7 summit in Italy, as shit-faced as a 17-year-old sailor on shore leave, and proceeded to slur his way through a nonsensical, factually-innaccurate speech on live television for all the world to see. For the Japanese, who routinely hand over a sizeable chunk of their monthly wages for their government pensions, to witness that blundering dipsomaniac’s performance in the knowledge that he was in control of their life’s savings, must have been like finding out that your priceless Ming vase had been entrusted to the Three Stooges.
Nakagawa blamed his bad behaviour on taking too much cold medicine, but he wasn’t fooling anyone, and was forced to resign (let’s see how unemployment affects his alcohol problem!) The nation collectively bowed their heads in shame and embarrassment, as opposed to the cackles of glee that the disgrace of a statesman invariably provokes in western countries, where people love nothing more than having the opportunity to mock and poke fun at snooty authority figures.
Which is what I shall proceed to do now!
A bit of research reveals that Nakagawa’s a typical, old, out-of-touch politician, who got his job via an expensive private education and his Dad pulling strings (his father was the prominent Hokkaidō politician, Ichiro Nakagawa).
And, much like a spoiled Hollywood brat, he’s been getting up to a lot of booze-fueled tomfoolery over the years.
Even though I can hardly blame the guy for turning to the bottle during the worst financial crisis in decades, by nature I find Nakagawa’s humiliating alco-antics pretty funny, and will catalogue them below. here they are:
Shoichi Nakagawa’s Top 6 Most Hilarious Drunken Mishaps!
1: Appearing on Global TV, Totally Rat-Arsed, and Disgracing a Nation.
2: Setting off a Security Alarm in the Vatican
During the same fateful trip to Italy, the bungling politician caused a scene in a Vatican museum, with slapstick antics worthy of Inspector Clouseau. While being shown around the museum by the ambassador and other local dignitaries, the accident-prone minister wandered around the museum like he owned the place, touching an off-limits priceless statue, not once but twice, and setting off a security alarm. Reportedly, he even sat on a precious exhibit, almost as if it were a bar-stool.
3: Freaking People Out by Screwing Up a Festive Tradition
In Japan, it is common practice for politicians to paint one eye of a traditional Daruma doll before an election for good luck, then to paint the other eye if they win, to show that their wish has been fulfilled. In June 2000, when a swaggering, inebriated Nakagawa found out he’d been elected for a sixth term in office in Obihiro, Hokkaido, he stuck his brush in the inkpot to paint the doll’s eye. Unfortunately, the clumsy nitwit put way too much ink on the brush and ended up splattering the doll’s face with black ink. Witnesses to this cock-up were horrified- black tears were not exactly the symbol of optimism that voters were looking for on election day.
4: Showing Up Wasted for His first Cabinet Meeting
In September 2004, then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi decided to have a Cabinet re-shuffle. At the time, Shoichi was somehow minister of economy, trade and industry. On the day that Koizumi was to announce his new team, Nakagawa, perhaps anticipating that his glory days were over, held a farewell news conference, before leaving the ministry for the nearest pub to get totally pissed-up.
Surprisingly, however, Nakagawa was reappointed and, still smashed, he had to rush back to the prime minister’s office. As a result, Nakagawa spent his first Cabinet meeting utterly shit-faced.
5: Causing a Massive Slide in Stocks by Being Hungover
Last October, in the midst of the financial crisis, as bankers around the world were pulling their hair out in frustration, the Japanese government decided that Nakagawa should hold a news conference to inform the public of his emergency measures to stabilize the market. Nonchalant Nakagawa sauntered up to the podium 15 minutes late, and didn’t have anything helpful to say. He hadn’t actually come up with any decent emergency measures. Somehow, this useless announcement dragged on well into the afternoon and, consequently, the worst slide in stocks in decades wasn’t stopped in time. Japan’s economy was buggered. The notorious drunkard Nakagawa was rumoured to be hung-over at the time, and was slammed by the press for his lax response. Nice going, Shoichi!
6: Late, Drunk, Almost Bumping into a Pillar
In 2006, when Nakagawa was somehow head of the government’s “Policy Research Council”, he indulged in a little old-fashioned Mr.Bean-style physical comedy. Most people, when asked to attend a high-profile meeting between various important political figures, would work hard to be punctual and well-prepared. Not our Shoichi!
When expected at a conference in a plush Tokyo hotel, between the the Policy Research Council bosses, the secretaries general of the ruling parties, and the governent affairs chiefs, Shoichi arrived late, was too trashed to walk in a straight line, and very nearly bumped into a concrete pillar. D’oh!
All of this would be acceptable if he were a nice guy, but Nakagawa’s an out-of-date chauvinist. In a (surely drunken) interview with the UK’s Daily Telegraph, about Japan’s declining birthrate, he boorishly declared that “Women have their proper place: they should be womanly. They have their own abilities and these should be fully exercised, for example in flower arranging, sewing, or cooking.”
The woman’s place is in the kitchen, eh, Shoichi?
That might be the case in your house, pal, but I suspect it’s because you, yourself, are either too smashed to cook without burning the house down, or because you’d be drinking all the cooking sherry.
And if the birth-rate is declining in the Nakagawa household, it may well be because you’re too pissed to get it up.
Hold on. Drink problems? Sexist? Following in Daddy’s footsteps? He’s the Japanese Charlie Sheen!
Japanese drinks corporations, most famously Suntory Whisky, are known for paying vast sums of cash to international superstars such as Harrison Ford to add a little glitz and glamour to their products by appearing in their TV commericals. The companies agree not to show the ads outside Japan, to avoid damaging the stars’ classy reputations by exposing them as shameless sell-outs.
However, when profits are low and booze companies and forced to make cutbacks, they have to hire the likes of Jan Michael Vincent instead, (who must have thought all his Christmases had come at once when Suntory waved the cash in front of his face. “Holy shit! Where do I sign?! Somebody get me a pen before they change their minds! Quick!” He probably sneaked a few of those bottles of whisky into his bag after filming when no-one was looking, too.)
In these times of global financial crisis, Screech from “Saved by the Bell” must be sitting by the phone just waiting for that call from Suntory Whisky.
Here are a selection Japanese booze ads featuring cut-price celebs who were probably pleased to get the call. I don’t blame them (hell, if anyone from Suntory wants to put me in a commercial, I’d be more than willing.) At least they actually need the money, unlike Harrison Ford.
Actually, I feel bad putting Phoebe Cates in there, since she looks phenomenal and I worshipped her as a kid, in Fast Times at Ridgemont high and Gremlins. I’m guessing the rights to the Elvis Presley song cost more than her fee, though!
This is an enjoyably brutal game involving much consumption of sake for the loser. It’s named “Kiku No Hana” which means “Chrysanthemum Flower”- you’ll find out why later.
You know the trick that magicians do where they hide a sponge ball under one of three cups, then move the cups around really quickly, and you have to guess which cup the ball is under? Well, this game would be like that if the person who picked the cup with the ball was actually the loser and was subsequently forced to fill the other two cups with booze and drink them (a deviation that would certainly add an edge to children’s parties!)
Here’s how to play: Take a sake cup for each player and put them face down on a tray. One player must then conceal something under one of the cups (traditionally a chrysanthemum, hence the name, but a coin will do nicely on one of those rare occasions that you don’t happen to have a chrysanthemum on you.) Next, the tray is passed around in a circle and each player must pick up a cup. If you lift the cup under which the coin is hidden, you have to take a bottle and fill all the cups that have already been turned over, then drink the lot. That means that if you’re the sixth person to pick up a cup and you’re unlucky enough to lose, you have to knock back six cups of sake.
If the tray finds its way back to the sneaky bastard who concealed the coin in the first place, then he will get his just desserts and have to fill the entire tray of overturned cups with sake, and glug it down.
A wild game, Kiku No Hana could be adopted as a version of Russian Roulette for thrill-seeking Alcoholics Anonymous members.
I found the “Kiku No Hana” game on this fella’s site, which has an informative list of quite a few excellent Japanese drinking games. Check it out!
Just my luck- I wait all my life for a band of bikini-clad trombone players, and when I finally discover one I find out they broke up last month. Tsk!
“Futomomo Satisfaction” featured three female trombonists in bikinis,
performing covers of The Ramones, The Rolling Stones and Buggles, alongside original tunes. The three fetching girls, Jackie, Suzuyakko, and Lumiere, certainly put the “bone” in “trombone,” if you catch my drift.
The girls described themselves on their Myspace Page thus:
Futomomo Satisfaction is a Japanese bikini Trombone gal band.
This revolutional icon in Japanese indies, will inevitably fascinate you!
Indeed. This is the exact kind of inspired, uncynical silliness and lack of regard for convention that keeps me living in Japan. Here are some videos of their shows.
Here’s a link to the Futomomo Satisfaction website.
I’m a big fan of Japanese clothes with appallingly mis-translated English on them. They make great Christmas presents for friends back home. Here’s an unnecessarily rude T-shirt, available from this website.