We bring you love

So, what political party do you support? Labor? Liberals? Republicans? Democrats? I don’t care. Your party sucks. I’ve got a new party and it rocks:

The Happiness Realisation Party

Wait, what’s that…?

The Happiness Realisation Party

The Happiness Realization Party’s platform promises include: world peace; a unicorn in every house; Polyphonic Spree robes for everyone and, finally; dumping LSD into the water supply to make sure everyone actually believes this will all happen.

Actually, this isn’t your standard case of humorous English translation – the Japanese name, too, literally means “Happiness Realization Party”. They were founded in May this year, and you can read all about them on their website (okay, if you can read Japanese).

According to their site, they’re connected to a 10 million person-strong Buddhist group called “Happy Science“.  According to their Wikipedia entry, Happy Science’s prophecies include:

In 2300-2400 the new continent of Atlantis will be recreated as a result of the United States sinking. After this is complete, Martin Luther and Nichiren will be reincarnated and they will lead a new huge religious movement.

During the years of 2400 through 2500 Jesus will be re-incarnated. Another important event is that the extraterrestrials that visited the Earth in the 1980s return.

You should really read the rest of the prophecies too.  I left some out of this quote because they sounded too wacky.

Back to the secular world, the main platform of the political party is amending  Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution.  Article 9 was introduced with the new Japanese Constitution following the end of World War II, and basically states that Japan may maintain a military only for self-defense.  This is taken to the extent that if you happen to say “the Japanese army”, you’ll be quickly corrected to say “the Japan Self-Defense Forces”.

The Happiness Realization Party, founded on Buddhist values of pacifism, wishes to amend Article 9 so they can go and kick some North Korean ass.  Really, that’s what it says on their web site.  Okay, it doesn’t say “ass”, but you can tell that’s what they were thinking when they wrote it.  They want to loosen some of the strict conditions in the constitution so that they can “defend Japan against North Korean missiles”.

What started as a poster that gave me a chuckle when I was at the local supermarket turned out to be quite the rabbit hole indeed.  My planned 5 minute post has turned into a 1 hour mini-research project, and there’s a lot more to read besides.  Look for an update after I’ve had some more research time.

Alternatively, if they find that I’ve met my maker after having realised what would appear to be a suspiciously excessive amount of happiness, you know who did it and that I knew too much.  Tell the world!

Update: Somebody has already done a great job researching this.  Head over there if you want to bask in the craziness.

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Whereupon my childhood fantasy gland explodes

I don’t like to drop The Science on you too much, but scientifically speaking, the only way this could possibly be cooler is if this was wailing a power chord on a Stratocaster on top of a windswept cliff in a circa 1987 music video:

Gundam

That’s right: Japan has finally built a giant robot.  This is the long-awaited 1:1 scale model of one of the robots from the extremely popular Gundam cartoon series. How big is it? Plenty big enough to crush me and the other 400 puny humans taking photos on this particular afternoon:

Gundam observes puny humans

As you’ll see, it’s not quite open yet.  The structure has been complete for about a week or so, but won’t be fully open until next month.  Actually, it gives me an excellent excuse to go back for a second look because each night it will light up, move, spew smoke and kill everyone in a one kilometer radius (probably).

Gundam

The attention to detail is incredible – check out the decals on the arms and legs.

Gundam

Gundam

Honestly?  If civilisation has to end, I think I’ve made my choice about how that should happen.

Gundam

You can find some shots of the Gundam all lit up during a test run too, which I’m deeply enviously about since I’ll have to wait until I go back again next month – me and half of Tokyo, most likely.

If you happen to be in Tokyo and want to see Gundam, go to Daiba Station on the Yurikamome line then walk to nearby Shiokaze Park. When your gob has been smacked, you’ll know you’re there.

Obama Daitouryou done Japanese

Talk about falling into a job. Meet comedian Nozomu Sato, Japan’s “official” Obama impersonator:

Japan's Obama

Caption: “What do you think of the President? And America?”. I don’t know if this is referring to the likeness, or if they’re asking him for his political insights.  He is sufficiently qualified after all, wearing a suit and all.

Any time I’ve happened to turn on the TV of late, this guy has invariably been on, whether it be a talk show, quiz show or cooking show. Celebrities on Japanese TV (“talento”) seem to be like that – once you get noticed for your thing, whether it be some stupid catchphrase or looking like the POTUS, prepare for some super-overexposure.  Does Mr Sato say “Yes we can” a lot?  You bet!

In Japan, President Obama is called “Obama Daitouryou”, which can be literally translated as “Big Chief Obama”. People in Japan love Obama, but perhaps for more than the obvious political reasons. In a country where studying English can give you a big leg-up career-wise,  every bookstore I walked into during and after the presidential election last year was playing (and selling) a CD with Obama’s speeches. Not a bad idea, actually – those crisp, lawyerly tones would be an excellent model to learn from.

Ah, so extrapolating from that, then: perhaps if I were to model my Japanese on Fake Big Chief Obama’s, my Japanese would get…. weird.  Weirder.

The Cakes of Shibuya

Going to a cake store in Japan is a very special experience.  The cakes you’ll see are all quite rich, individual works of art delicately presented in individual plastic sleeves and cardboard boxes.  They are usually not so cheap.  Around AUD $5 will buy you a 1/10 piece of a cake, while a whole 20cm chocolate cake can easily run over AUD $30 (and somewhere north of $50 for the bigger version at the boutique cake store near my house).  I must say, though, that on the occasion I bought one, it was indeed a very, very good cake.

So, when I see cakes like these at a shop somewhere between Omotesando and Shibuya, a more upmarket area of Tokyo:

Magic cakes

Cakes that look this good + upmarket area of Tokyo + no price tags = don’t even bother asking about the price.  At least the shop had the courtesy to share their creations in the shop window for the passers-by.  Looking may be enough in this case – cutting into one would feel like vandalism.