Thursday, January 13, 2005

Aomori News: Gaijin for Life’s Annual Update

Aomori is, one might say, the Arkansas of Japan and therefore, out of respect for the rest of Japan that probably thinks reporting Aomori news even once a year is overdoing it, I shall be brief. There are two developments in the prefecture that I feel are worthy of international attention. First,

Apple Maidens: Desiring to Deliver to the World through Song from the Town of Apples
Please click on the photo in order to legitimize my unsanctioned use of this photo by visiting the site of its origin.

. . . the birth of the Apple Maidens (りんご娘: ringo musume, literally “apple daughters”) in the year 2000 (the current three members were not in the original group). Before going any further, I should explain why I am not really qualified to report on J-pop or any other kind of pop music at all. In the summer of 2000 or there about I was taking a midnight stroll in Greenwich Village, NY with some Japanese friends. We came upon a small crowd in front of a night club just as a big black suburban pulled up. As we watched, a little blond girl and an African American gentleman of gargantuan proportions exited the vehicle and passed within a few feet of us. The Japanese girls I was with began screaming “It’s Britney Spears! It’s Britney Spears!” and, perceiving that something great was transpiring and wishing to be let in on the secret of what it was, I shouted back “Who’s Britney Spears?!” It was an innocent question on my part, but one of the girls I was with slapped my mouth while another planted her hand firmly in my chest and thrust me backwards out of Miss Spear’s presence. Since that time I have been very careful to pay close attention whenever I hear the name “Britney Spears,” but I remain quite ignorant regarding the rest of the world of pop music.

Ringo Musume (りんご娘: Apple Maidens) on the Left, Morning Musume on the Right

I think, though, that I know enough to authoritatively state that Ringo Musume is a rip off of Morning Musume. I think, moreover, that I could perhaps also suggest authoritatively that this is no cheap rip off but a strategic and slightly expensive regional rip off of a nationally successful group in the name of promoting local agriculture. Both groups have a “Lolita goes to Super Mario’s Castle Ball” look about them, but I like to think that the Aomori girls are nicer people.

The second noteworthy event to take place in Appleland Aomori is the culling of Wakinosawa Village’s famous monkey troops. I reported in a recent post that local boards of education are responsible for issues related to protected species designated as “natural treasures.” Yesterday I learned that this responsibility includes the power of life and death! In a solemn meeting yesterday, Wakinosawa Village’s board of education pronounced the death sentence on designated monkeys from the nearby troublesome and overpopulated troops that often invade the village. Twenty-four monkeys are to face death by lethal injection. This new intelligence has planted seeds of ambition in my little gaijin brain. If I take Japanese citizenship and devote myself to climbing the bureaucratic ladder here in Kazamaura, I may eventually have the power to inflict capital punishment on monkeys! There are many cultures in the world, with many different views on different things, but all of them are in agreement that monkeys are fundamentally evil. Perhaps I could serve the world by helping to channel people’s xenophobic feelings into a hatred of monkeys instead! Okay, okay, who am I kidding? This is Japan, and if you bothered to follow the above link to the Asahi article you already know that the death sentences had to pass through a bajillion levels of government and "experts" before the village board of education got to rubber stamp them.

As to other events transpiring in Aomori, such as Ai-chan’s ping-pong and people dieing from masses of snow falling on them from roofs, well, this is Aomori and no one will pay any attention anyway.