Japanese Stocking Up on Cigarettes

As everyone in Japan knows, the price of a pack of cigarettes is about to jump 20% in a few days. That will bring the price of a pack of regular cigarettes to about ¥410. I’m sure glad that I quit smoking a few years ago.

I smoked from 1998 to May 2009. Yes, I am lame. I didn’t smoke at all until I became over 40-years-old. Interestingly enough, I got hooked on cigarettes during a five-week hospital stay in 1998.

How does one get hooked on cigarettes while staying in the hospital? This is Japan, there are still lots of hospitals that have smoking sections inside the hospital. The one where I got hooked on cigarettes had a smoking lounge that seated at least 100 people. While I was staying there, there was not much to do – couldn’t really go out (it was winter) so us guys would sit around in the lobby and smoke cigarettes…

That is so Japan…

Back then, a pack of cigarettes cost ¥240 yen. The price of cigarettes has been steadily increasing by about ¥30 a pack every two years or so.

I got fed up with that nonsense and quit when cigarettes hit ¥300 per pack. I wrote about that here.

Now, with the price of cigarettes about to skyrocket, Japanese people are stocking up. I was in my favorite grocery store the other day and over-heard two register clerks saying that they were out of several brands of major cigarettes and that was in the morning just after opening.

Some people are buying hundreds of cartons and storing them like gold.

Yusuke Sato says a man walked into his tobacco store in Atsugi, southwest of Tokyo, this month and bought 100 cartons of Mild Seven cigarettes. While they may not be good for his health, he may have saved $1,300.

The man is one of thousands of smokers across Japan stocking up before Oct. 1 to beat a record 40 percent tax increase on tobacco. Their hoarding may add as much as 1.4 percentage points to this quarter’s annualized economic growth rate, according to estimates from the Japan Research Institute.

“We were afraid we would run out of stock,” said Sato, who started taking reservations for cartons last month. “Thirty cartons has been the norm.” Next month, customers would pay 110,000 yen ($1,300) more for the same 20,000-cigarette order after the price of a pack of 20 jumps by a third, he said.

The headline of the Bloomberg article talks about how the Japanese government is benefitting from this “cigarette rush” due to a jump in tax income from sales.

I’m sure the government needs the money too since the economy is so bad…

But how long will this last?

I asked my best friend, Taro Furukawa, about it. Taro is 38-years-old and has been smoking since he was 14. In the last few years, he’s been conserving cigarettes and sometimes smoking the same cigarette twice (he takes a puff then puts it out gently and returns it to the pack to smoke later – they taste rancid that way, but at least you get a nicotine rush, I used to do that too!). Taro is a hard core smoker – like many Japanese his age. Taro says he will not quit smoking even if cigarettes hit ¥1,000 (about $11) per pack!

Taro Furukawa

Taro went to the store and bought several hundred dollars of cigarettes at once… The amazing part is that everywhere in Japan is sold out of cigarettes. Taro had to place an order and wait one week. He will get his cigarettes tomorrow he said.

Taro says he will never quit smoking no matter what the price of cigarettes. Why? Because he likes to smoke.

I quit smoking almost 2 years ago and do not want a cigarette anymore… But I can understand why a guy likes to smoke.

If it helps him to relax and enjoy himself, then why not let him do it?

Life can be difficult enough as it is, full of stress, without having a one minute simple pleasure taken away.

But, after some more prodding, Taro admitted that his wife was not happy at all that his weekly cigarette allowance went from $21 to over $600 in one shot.

Taro said, “I might have to quit smoking at this rate…” If Taro thinks this, then there must be millions of other Japanese guys who think the same thing. Maybe this one time burst of spending helps Japan’s GDP but it’s going to end and, besides a huge decrease in cigarette taxes, we might see a huge increase in irritated Japanese men.

I hope not.

You Have a Product to Sell: Yourself! Win!

A pawn and a king sit on a chessboard. The pawn looks at the king & thinks,
“I’m going to work hard and become king someday.”
The king smiles, and thinks,
“The harder you work, the longer I get to be king.”

The New Economy has defined a new set of rules governing success in the market-place. These new rules demand a new way of thinking from all of us. Gone are the days of following orders from corporate bosses and “trying not to make waves” in order to climb the ladder of success. The fact of the matter is that the New Economy demands that you do rock the boat or be brushed aside in the new kill-or-be-killed marketplace. White-collar job are being shipped overseas to people who will work twice as long as you for one-third of what you get paid. There are no jobs with “job security” anymore.

The only job security you can have in the next decade is the job security you make for yourself and, come to think of it, that’s the way it should be.

Communism died a long time ago; why do people think the government or their corporation should care for them in their old age? They can’t anymore. Fact of the matter is that you cannot afford to not become successful anymore. You cannot afford to sit back, like our fathers did, punch a card 9–5 and expect to bring home enough bacon to buy a house, a car, and support a wife with three kids. It’s almost the year 2011; get into the eighties, will you?

The last twelve months of my working life have been a wild roller-coaster ride through the ups-and-downs of The Corporate Life. While I was forced to work with people who were still stuck in the old-school mindset, I made the effort everyday to re-educate them and myself. It was a daunting task, but what other option did I have? What other option do you have today? You will re-educate yourself or you will fall by the wayside.

In a previous article, I wrote about the requirements of success that I was luckily self-taught and taught by others. Those guidelines have served me well.

I initially became Chief Music Director of a major Tokyo FM radio station in July of 2006. I was promoted to General Manager in October of 2006. This was when I became the first ever foreign-born General Manager of a major Japanese broadcasting station in history. I left that job as General Manager in July of 2007.

I’ll let you decide if I succeeded or not.

The station I worked for had lost $140 million dollars in ten years. It had never been in The Black even once. It had never once dug itself out of the last-place spot in the ratings sweepstakes in those entire ten years.

As G.M. my assignment was easy to understand, but quite difficult to do. I was given three targets to achieve in the shortest possible time. They were:

  1. Kill all the Red Ink and make the station profitable.
  2. Make the stations rating competitive (the other Tokyo stations consistently beat our ratings by a 10 to 1 ratio).
  3. Create a “Cool” station image by concentrating on the station’s “Branding.”

Between corporate restructuring (firing a bunch of incompetent and corrupt employees) and instituting an American-Style database system, we repaired many of our problems in the first 3 months.

By November of 2006, we had killed all of the Red Ink. Even though I was never able to wrestle the control of the weekend shows from the corrupt Good Old Boy network, I was able to easily take control of the weekday time slots. By April of 2007, the stations ratings among 12–29 year-old men and women were #1 across the board from 7 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. Monday through Friday. In fact, we dominated the ratings; the first time in station history.

By April of 2007, the station actually profited $200,000, also a first.

This probably all sounds rosy, but it wasn’t. This was the most difficult job I have ever had in my life. Every day at that station I faced a massive uphill struggle. The challenges involved being a foreigner in an extremely corrupt, very “good-old-boy,” network and, by the mere fact that I am a foreigner, I was handicapped by cultural and language deficiencies. Childish jealousies among the Japanese staff who had worked at that company for all these years – while it was losing money – who wanted to become G.M. themselves – but couldn’t – didn’t help at all as they were constantly and maliciously working to undermine my authority and the authority of the president of the company.

Needless to say, about the only thing these people actually did work on was interfering – I couldn’t get most of them to be conscientious about their jobs. But in many ways, it didn’t matter. I decided that I was going to put myself in a win-win situation as that was the only hope for me. I knew that if I did a spectacular job that some people would notice whether the company succeeded or failed.

By June of 2007, the parent company was extremely pleased with station progress. So pleased with progress were they that they transferred my boss, the president, to another subsidiary that was doing poorly. In his place, they returned the epitome of a Good Old Boy: a 67-year-old man who had never worked in radio in his entire life.

Meet the new boss, definitely not the same as the old boss – but the same as the old-old boss; same as the former old-old boss who worked the station into massive debt and bad ratings. Since the new boss was a Good Old Boy, that meant he brought in his pals to work with him. The incompetence and corruption returned. With sadness in my heart and bitterness in my mind I knew it was time to get out. Even though I was hurt, I politely wished them well and bid them adieu.

Was I a failure? No. I don’t think so. I did over and above what was asked of me. Never in the history of broadcasting was a station in Japan turned around in such a short span of time; we had a cool image, our ratings were #1 where it mattered the most and, we were finally profitable…

But I was out of a job…

Or was I?

No. Like I said, I strived to do a spectacular job everyday. When word came out that a new president was being brought in to the radio station, I was head-hunted by three different companies even before June arrived. After talking to them all, I took what I thought would be the most challenging and fun job; I elected to become Head of Music Programming for Gotcha Media. Gotcha Media paid me more money than the radio station did and the working conditions are better and it’s a much more exciting place to be. I believe the word young folks use today to describe this sort of situation would be, “Sweet!”

How did this come about? Like I said, everyday at the radio station was a massive uphill struggle. Nevertheless, I decided that I was going to succeed, I was going to stand out; I was going to be flamboyant, and I was going to be a star. I put myself – and my frame of mind – in a win-win situation. It didn’t matter if the station succeeded or failed. I was going to win.

If the station failed, I was still going to come out looking good because everyone would know that, “Mike Rogers made that station cool.” If the station were a success, and it was, then everyone would say, “Mike Rogers performed miracles.”

When the president of Gotcha Media hired me he said, “Everyone knows it was you who turned the radio station around. Everyone knows that the president was never there.” It’s true that everyone knew that the president was never there. I found it quite flattering that he felt that everyone knew that the success was due to me. I had often felt that I was the only one who thought that way.

How did I, how do you, put yourself into a win-win situation at work, no matter the circumstances? It is very difficult and few people seem to do it. But the way things are going now how can you afford not to? How can you afford to not re-create yourself into a positive force to be reckoned with? How can you not afford to make yourself into your own boss that stands out among the crowd, someone who everyone notices and thinks about hiring?

How can you not think about these things when the stock market dives, the American dollar loses 40% of its value against a foreign currency, and gold prices climb to ever higher and higher prices? You can’t.

You will make yourself successful or you will not succeed. It’s that simple. No one else is going to help you anymore. And, come to think of it, I can’t think of anything more American than the idea that you are going to be independent (even if you work for a company) and do this by yourself – and you are not going to depend on anyone else to help you do it either.

Whether you are a company employee or self-employed or thinking about joining the work-force, you must understand that today, you are your product. Your product is you. You must sell yourself as being a can-do person; a person who is sincere, truthful, dedicated, focused, driven, obsessive, and will do anything to fill your client’s needs. Your clients must know this to be true and to trust you with their money. My clients love me because they know that they can’t find anyone else who will take care of them like I do. My clients know that I always do top-class work and my product is always spectacular. I am my product.

The results? Your clients will follow you whereever you go. Actually, this shouldn’t be any surprise, this has always been true in the past; it will be true in the future.

We all must understand that there’s a big difference between doing something and a new product and doing something meticulously planned with a great attitude, an aggressive can-do dedication to be the best; an obsession towards success, and a road map with a great new product.

You don’t have a great new product? Yes, you do. It’s you. You are your product.

The truth of the matter is I believe that you can make much more money than you do now, but first, you have to change your thinking. All of us can make much more money together. It’s a win-win for me, win-win for you, and win-win for us.

A win-win situation is not just the best way, it’s obviously the only way (but most people haven’t figured that out).

Are you ready to make big money? Are you willing to strive to make a fantastic new product? Are you ready for the new you? Great! Let’s get started on your new product. Buy this book and read it immediately: The Brand You 50: Or: Fifty Ways to Transform Yourself from an ‘Employee’ into a Brand That Shouts Distinction, Commitment, and Passion!

The Brand You 50 will show you why you are your product and why 70% of what you do is un-cool, therefore you should stop doing that 70% and concentrate on the 30% that is cool. Your product is you.

The Big Moo will show you why being “safe” in your career and business is actually a very risky road to take. Everybody is safe, every product’s promotional plan is safe. As the world gets more and more turbulent, people want to eliminate as much risk from their business and their careers as possible, so they play it safe. People mistakenly believe that the way to eliminate risk is by playing it safe… Play it safe like everyone else does, right? Wrong.

Think about it, how can you possibly risk your future by being like everyone else? You can’t. You had better be noticed and you had better be remarkable. And you cannot be remarkable by playing it safe.

These books will show you why you are your product and why your product has to be remarkable in this day and age. They will help you to better your product. They will stop you from being “comfortable” and to start you being remarkable. They’ll teach you to know that you can never compromise yourself because you are all you’ve got!

I’ll make the effort to write again soon and recommended some other necessary books, but for now, I’ve got a product that needs to be polished everyday and sold: Me! You do too. Let’s get cracking.


Keywords: win-win, work, positive thinking

Roots of Japanese anime? Ancient Japanese Monsters

One of my favorite blogs on Japan is Pink Tentacle. Pick Tentacle is a blog about Japanese Art, Culture, Science and Technology.

I highly recommend it.

Today, they have an unusual collection of 24 traditional Japanese monsters. Have you ever wondered where the Japanese get their ideas for those silly monsters in the Godzilla movies? I have. Well, the fact of the matter is that Japan has had some very strange (or silly) looking monsters for a long time.

Pick Tentacle has uncovered a collection of 24 of them and made high quality scans for your viewing pleasure! The description reads:

The Bakemono Zukushi handscroll, painted in the Edo period (18th-19th century) by an unknown artist, depicts 24 traditional monsters that once used to spook the people of Japan.

This is an interesting collection as, usually, the only other places you can see these spooks is at a local festival… And speaking of festivals, it’s festival season now in Japan so get your notebooks out and jot down these characters now… They all look the same until you know the names…

Odoroshi (おどろし) is a red-faced monster with big eyes, black teeth, and long hair.

Yume-no-seirei (“dream ghost” – 夢の精霊) appears as a thin old man in a white robe.

Yamamba (山姥) is a mountain hag.

I like this last one. There was a while there, about 5 or 6 years ago, when Shibuya girls wore outrageous makeup on their faces and broad white eyeshadow. That fashion was called, “Yamamba” like the mountain hag above.

If you want to see more scrolls, click here.

JATA World Trade Fair Open to Public Today!

The Japan Association of Tourist Agencies (JATA) will have their annual Tokyo travel fair,  JATA World Trade Fair (WTF) 2010, starting today Friday, September 24 to Sunday September 26 at Tokyo Big Site. The JATA WTF is one of the largest international travel fairs in all of Asia.

The JATA WTF 2010 is an exciting chance to visit the booths of many countries and experience their flavor without having to leave Tokyo. It’s the next best thing to actually visiting those countries!



The fair will feature 699 exhibitors from 151 countries and regions all around the world with a total of 685 companies and 914 exhibit booths. There will also be delicious food and drinks from around the world that you can sample so it is a fun day for the entire family.

JATA World Travel Fair
September 24 (Fri.) 12:30 – 20:00 Travel Trade & Press
September 25 (Sat.) 10:00 – 18:00 Trade, Press & General Public
September 26 (Sun.) 10:00 – 17:00 Trade, Press & General Public
* Fair hours are subject to change.

Here is a map with how to access Tokyo Big Site:


For more details see Tokyo Big Site access information here.

Contact: JATA World Tourism Congress & Travel Fair Secretariat
For General Public: JATA WTF Secretariat
TEL:03-6891-1150 FAX:03-6891-1152 (Japanese Only)

From the JATA webpage:

“…the travel industry has taken on a larger role in recent years. On an individual consumer level, expectations are growing for the excitement, cultural exchange and relaxation that can be gained through travel.

The JATA World Travel Fair has taken this latent, universal “dynamism” inherent in travel as its keyword, which we work to pursue and express.”

For more information on this exciting trade fair see the JATA homepage here.

See you and your family at the fair!


Keywords: JATA, JATA World Tourism Congress & Travel Fair, JATA WTF 2010, Tokyo Big Site, Marketing Japan, Mike Rogers, Mike in Tokyo Rogers

Economic Problems and Happiness Through Zen

Those who have visited Chinatown, any Chinatown, will observe statues of a stout fellow carrying a linen sack. Chinese merchants call him Happy Chinaman or Laughing Buddha.

This Hotei lived in the T’ang Dynasty and he had no desire to gather disciples around him. Instead, he would carry around the sack filled with gifts of candy, fruit, or doughnuts. These he would give to the children of the streets who gathered around him in play.

Whenever he met a Zen devotee, he would say, “Give me one penny.” If any asked him to return to the temple to teach others or pray, he would say, “Give me one penny.”

Once, as he was about his play-work, another Zen master happened along and inquired, “What is the significance of Zen?”

Hotei slouched and immediately dropped his sack down to the ground in silent answer.

Then, another Zen master asked, “What is the actualization of Zen?”

At once the Happy Chinaman swung the sack over his shoulder and continued on his merry way.

It’s been decided; the US economy is crashing… or it isn’t. The Great Depression is quickly coming upon us… or it’s not. We’ll all soon be poor, out of work, with no money or food… or we won’t.

To me, it seems pretty clear what’s going on, what’s happening, and what’s going to happen… I think it will really matter to all of us and be very painful, or it won’t.

Actually, what difference does it make what words the government uses to describe what’s going on? The only thing that matters is what we think and what we do about it. We can panic and worry all we want; it won’t change anything.

I know, upon reading this next part, most might consider me crazy but I ask you to consider the coming events in a positive light. Look forward to that which we cannot change. Of course I don’t mean to allow yourself to be like a leaf on the ocean being blown every which way by the whim of the wind or currents; of course you must prepare as best you can. But once you have made preparations, then look for the positive things.

Things I look forward to is spending more time with my children, not spending money, but thinking of more ways that we can grow closer together in a sort-of “old fashioned way.” Aren’t people always saying that, especially when it comes to family, “things used to be better.” They were. Long ago, people didn’t have to spend money to bring their families closer together. Nowadays, people don’t know what to do with their leisure time if they don’t spend money.

Why do I need to pack the family up in a car and drive them to Disneyland, spending hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, to be entertained when I can pack a picnic basket and take them to a park and come closer together by entertaining them with reading a book or stories from my youth, conversing, or playing catch? What family wouldn’t this type of activity benefit? It would benefit all families both psychologically as well as economically.

And speaking of psychological benefits, I wondered the other day what it would be like to have to walk around all day, go to work (thankfully still having a job), with absolutely no money in my pocket when I left my home? Up until recently, I would spend about $25 a day on food and at convenience stores. On July 1st, I stopped. I didn’t have to. I just wanted to see what it would be like.

I told my wife to put no money in my wallet everyday. I couldn’t spend money I didn’t have in my pocket. I would get up 10 minutes early and eat leftovers; I would buy no coffee at Starbucks; I would drink tap water at work, then go home to eat leftovers. If I were fortunate, my wife would have cooked something new by then. I’ve done this now for almost one month.

You know what? It wasn’t so hard. In fact, when I changed my thinking and began to calculate that the money I saved was going to feed my children, it was easy. I’m fortunate; I still have a job. But I might not next month.  Why should we wait to prepare for what might be coming when we can get ready now? Why shouldn’t I walk before I am forced to run?

Since I started this, I’ve saved about $250 dollars. Not a lot of money, but $250 dollars is $250 dollars. One year of doing this will have saved one month’s of mortgage payments. Think about that.

Perhaps we have come to live too accustomed to the so-called “Good Life.” When we want something, we buy it. But do I really need that new gadget or game soft? Do I really need to eat lunch out at a restaurant 250 days a year? No, I don’t think so. Living this way makes me appreciate more the simple things. In fact, I used to eat dinner out about 350 nights a year. Now I don’t. When I ate out every night, I didn’t look forward to it. Now, I do. It has become special again.

Now I look forward to coming up with new ideas and ways that I can spend time with my kids and not spend money. I feel, in a way, like I live in a Time-Machine and I am taking them back in time to when life was simpler and families actually spent time together and a kid’s best friend was actually his own dad.

What’s changed, actually? Nothing. Just my way of thinking changed.

The economy is ruined and things are becoming scarce… What can I do about it? I’ve prepared as best I can so now I’m going to pick up the sack, swing it over my shoulder, and continue on my merry way.

Finally, consider this:

Ryokan, a Zen master, lived the simplest kind of life in a little hut at the foot of a mountain. One evening, a thief visited the hut only to discover that there was nothing to steal.

Ryokan returned and caught him. “You may have come a long way to visit me,” he told the prowler, “and you should not return empty-handed. Please take my clothes as a gift.”

The thief was bewildered. He took the clothes and slunk away.

Ryokan sat naked, watching the moon. “Poor fellow,” he mused, “I wish I could give him this beautiful moon.”

Zen Flesh, Zen Bones

This article originally appeared on Lew Rockwell

Croatia Tourism Holds Press Conference in Tokyo Sept. 22, 2010

The Croatian Tourism Board (CNTB) in Japan held a successful press conference in Tokyo today. The event was hosted by the Chief of the Japan office for Croatian Tourism Mr. Edouard Tripkovic Katayama and his friendly staff. The theme of the event was, “Be Croative!” and concerned everything you’d ever want to know about Croatia!

The event was held at the Tokai University Meeting Hall on the 35th floor of the Kasumigaseki building on Wednesday Sept. 22, 2010.

First up to give a speech was Mr. Drago Stambuk the Croatian Ambassador to Japan who spoke about the beauty of Croatia and how while Japanese tourism to other European nations  has declined in these last few years, Japanese tourism to Croatia has grown expotentially.

Croatia Ambassador to Japan Mr. Drago Stambuk at the podium

After Mr. Stambuk, Mr. Edouard Katayama gave a speech and ran through a list of amazing details about Croatia and tourism to that wonderful country. For example, in 2003, less than 20,000 Japanese visited Croatia for the entire year but in 2009 that number rocketed to 160,000. Also the current Nomura Real Estate TV commercial for Proud was filmed in Croatia.

Mr. Edouard Katayama of CNTB

Following Mr. Katayama, came Mr. Nada Bidojevich Chairman of Croatia Investment, Economy and Industry. He ran dow a list of facts about the country, its economy and its place in Europe and how Croatia offers an attractive gateway into Europe for Japan.

Mr. Nada Bidojievich, Chairman Croatia Investment, Economy and Industry

Some of his highlight points were:

*Croatia is in the middle of Europe. It is 2 ~ 3 hours from anywhere in Europe. Easy access to 40% of Europe’s entire population.

*Croatia is a member of NATO, WTO and expecting full EU membership in 2012, so it is a country that follows the rule of law.

*Croatia has the best infra-structure for business in the entire region and is definitely business-friendly for Japanese business.

*Croatia has a stable banking system.

*Even though Croatia is a small country, it has five climatic systems.

*In the last 3 years, the President of Russia, the President of the United States, the President of China and two European Presidents have visited Croatia.

The speeches were all very fascinating with Mr. Bidojievich surprising us with all sorts of trivia about famous Croatians who invented things like the ballpoint pen, the torpedo and much more.

After the speeches, the press were invited to the banquet room for some delicious Croatian wine and drinks and food.

It was an extremely successful event run by a very exciting and up and coming European nation. Look for Croatia being in the news much much more in the next weeks, months and years.

Here are some more fun facts about Croatia:

- That the Dalmatian dog from the film “101 Dalmatians” was named after Dalmatia, in which most of the Croatian Adriatic is located.

- That the first public theatre in Europe was opened in 1612 on the island of Hvar, in the town which “Conde Nast Traveler Magazine” entered at the fifth place on its Top Ten list of best island towns in the world.

- That by the end of the third century AD, the Roman emperor Diocletian decided for construction of his palace the place where the city of Split is located today. The Palace of Diocletian is one of the best known integral architectural and cultural constructions in the world, which, due to its preservation and beauty, UNESCO entered in its registry of World Cultural Heritage in 1979.

- That in the small town of Trogir, 30 km away from Split, founded in 3rd century BC, there is one of the best preserved Romanesque-Gothic complexes in the world and is therefore also on the World Cultural Heritage list of UNESCO.

Croatia cake

- That the necktie has its origin in Croatia and that the word “cravat” came from the word “Croat”; so called because worn by Croats in the French army during the Thirty Years’ War. In their own way, with the cravat, the Croats have started conquering the world from the coasts of the Adriatic Sea from 17th century. The consequences of that conquering are today felt around the necks by 600 million businessmen worldwide.

- That Marco Polo (1254-1324), an adventurer, merchant and one of the best known world travelers, whose book “The Travels of Marco Polo” is the first tourist book in the world, comes from Korcula on Korcula island in Croatia.

- That in 1458 Benko Kotruljevic from Dubrovnik wrote one of the first books on world economic literature, “On Trading and the Perfect Merchant”, and that he was the first to establish the basis of modern double-entry book-keeping.

- That Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night was staged in Dalmatia.
- That Agatha Christie spent her second honeymoon in Dubrovnik and Split.

- That James Joyce was a teacher of English in Pula from 1904 and 1905, in the town that has existed for three millennia with one of the best preserved Roman amphitheatres worldwide.
- That the ball-point pen was invented by a Croat, Eduard (Slavoljub) Penkala (1871-1922), that it bears his name and is in daily use.

- That two winners of the Nobel Prize in chemistry came from Croatia – Lavoslav Ruzicka (1939) and Vladimir Prelog (1975).

- That Nikola Tesla (1856-1943), the father of alternative current electricity and technology of wireless communications, after which the unit for magnetic induction is named, was born in Croatia, and that he refused to receive the Nobel prize he had to share with T. A. Edison.

For more on the exciting country of Croatia see here.



Keywords: Croatia, 101 Dalmations, Marco Polo, Nikola Tesla, Shakespeare, Dubrovnik, Split

New Low Cost Carrier Enters Japan Market

More new Low Cost Carrier’s (LCC) are entering Japan to the betterment of the Japanese consumer. This time a new airlines from Malaysia, AirAsia Bhd, is about to begin services.

From Nikkei Newspapers:

Five overseas budget airlines already operate regular flights to Japan, but with AirAsia Bhd to join the fray, price competition on international routes is sure to take off.

Established in 2001, the Malaysian airline is a trailblazing low-cost carrier. It has grown at breakneck speed over 10 years and now operates 132 routes covering such markets as Great Britain, South Korea, China and Australia.

Japan had been on the airline’s radar for a few years, but hefty airport usage fees and limited landing spots at Narita and other airports remained stumbling blocks.

From October, Haneda airport will begin midnight flights for major overseas carriers and this has opened up available slots for other airlines to get into Narita and the LCC are taking advantage of this situation. This is especially good for businessmen as companies are getting very careful about travel expenses in a more competitive market.

Business travelers are also expected to opt for low-cost carriers as companies pare back operating expenses. With Japanese airlines caught up in the web as well, price competition is likely to soar.

All of this is to the better for business and the public at large. Hopefully these LCC can start to get even the majors involved in the price cutting and competition for better services at lower cost.

Original Nikkei article.


Keywords: Low Cost Carrier, LCC, AirAsia, Narita, Haneda

¥10 Yen Shops Prove Deflation in Japan?

The Asia Times Online shows what 20 years of Japan’s economic policies have brought us: Severe deflation.

Now, we have ¥10 yen shops selling daily items and doing brisk business in Japan. Ten yen is about 8 cents. The ¥10 yen shops sell loss leader items to attract the customers but the other items sell for about ¥88 each, so they even beat out the ¥100 yen shops.

¥10 yen shop in Yoyogi in Tokyo!

The store that accomplishes all of this is called the Recycle Garden and you can see their webpage here.

As the Asia Times Online reports:

At Recycle Garden, 10 yen buys the customer everyday items such as chopsticks, kitchen goods, nail-scissors, hand sanitizers, or air fresheners. A colored plastic hair clasp is also

10 yen. In the Kawasaki shop alone, the product lineup consists of about 1,000 items at 10 yen, with the number of goods totaling around 30,000. It’s all there.

Surprisingly, most of those products are made in Japan, not in China, Vietnam or Cambodia, from where usually cheaper and lower-quality goods flow into Japan.

How does Recycle Garden achieve these super low prices? Interestingly, they buy up goods from bankrupt shops and other bankrupt ¥100 stores!

The article continues:

The mechanism is this: amid an increasingly fierce pricing war among neighborhood retail shops such as 100-yen convenience stores, Recycle Garden makes bulk purchases of those goods from bankrupt shops and firms as from deceased manufacturing and wholesale merchants. In most cases, on hearing the news about a bankruptcy, Recycle Garden workers dash to the failed firms with large dump trucks, and buy up and take away immediately to their chain store a vast amount of goods.

“We are cutting prices to the bone,” said Tadafumi Fukuda, 41, manager at Recycle Garden’s Kawasaki outlet. “Since we also sell other items at 88 yen and above, 10-yen goods serve as a crowd puller.” The number of customers visiting the shop has increased 20% from a year ago, when the shop started to sell 10-yen goods, he said.

Of course, if the economy were good, then they could never do this business plan of cannibalising other discount shops, but as long as the Japanese government keeps up with the stupid policies that we’ve had over these past twenty years, then it certainly won’t be just, “Japan’s Two Lost Decades” It will certainly turn into, “Japan’s Lost Three Decades.”


Keywords:  ¥10 yen shop,  ¥100 yen shop, deflation, Recycle Garden, Marketing Japan, Mike Rogers, Mike in Tokyo Rogers

Bizarre Worships in Japan (and other Titillating Subjects)

I put the title to this as, “Boob Worship Shrines in Japan” but that’s not exactly correct as to what this is all about. It is about worship and it does have to do with women’s breasts, but not in a sexual context…

In Japan there are shrine to all sorts of gods. It is a part of Shinto religion which is a totally Japanese religion. There are gods for animals, rivers, nature – you know, the usual sort. But there are also gods for some pretty wild things.

The wildest one I had ever heard of was the god of penis which is in Kawasaki. I know you don’t believe me, so here’s a photo:

In spite of what you might be thinking this is about, it’s probably not exactly what you imagine… This is actually a fertility ritual as too many men, er, ahem, have a hard time.. Ummm, getting an, er…well, you know what I mean; too many men have the unfortunate incident of “not being able to perform” duties.

This is what the Japanese probably used before Viagra.

Karube Shrine

Yesterday, I stumbled across another shrine that I thought was, well, unusual… It is a god for “Mother’s breasts.” Now stop what you are thinking right there!!! Some people think this is a god for women’s breasts but that is not exactly correct. This shrine is dedicated to the breasts of the mother’s in order so that she may give nutritious milk to babies…

Sorry to burst your bubble…

The shrine is in Okayama in Eastern Japan and is called Karube Shrine. It is also called “The Oppai Shrine.” “Oppai” means “giving milk to babies.” So, sorry guys… The shrine is not a shrine to the beauty of the women’s breast… It is to the beauty of motherhood.



詳しい情報 (more information at):Gigazine.

I think the boob people and the penis people should get together… They could probably have a party, no?


Keywords: penis, boobs, breasts, Kawasaki

The Easy Way to Teach Your Child to Ride a Bicycle…

Have you ever taught a child how to ride a bicycle? Well, if you have, then you can attest to the fact that it is a very rewarding experience and is also a time for growth and a memories to last a lifetime with that child…

Well, heck, it should be with all that exercise you get running along side of the bike pushing and holding it up, pulling your hair out, huffing and puffing and hoping you don’t have a heart attack!

Teaching a child to ride a bike can also be an exercise in total frustration, grinding one’s teeth, counting to ten, and great practice for patience therapy besides wanting to scream out loud things like, “STOP PUTTING ON THE BRAKES WHEN YOU ARE TRYING TO PEDAL!!!”

But, hopefully, we catch ourselves before we lose our tempers and calm down….

No, folks, teaching a child to ride a bike shouldn’t be that big of a deal. It should be easy for both of you. Today I’m going to show you how to do it easily and simply with the minimum amount of effort for both you and that child…..

Thank God, I finally taught my six-year-old to ride a bike… In spite of the way they teach kids to ride bikes in Japan…

In Japan, they recommend training wheels. They also put the seats so low that, if you are not careful, the kid could scratch up their knees on the road. Since I live in Japan with my Japanese wife (and she’s the boss) then we did things the Japanese way and my son had been riding around on his bike with training wheels for over a year. I wanted to remove the training wheels and do it my way… But, no!!!! The wife wouldn’t let me.

This meant that, after the training wheels came off, he still had no sense of balance and I spent several hours holding the bike’s seat and running along the bike trying to teach my kid something about it. After doing that several times in the heat of summer, I “let” my wife try that once… She got the point and relented; not only did the training wheels come off, the pedals came off too!

Then I took him to a small sloping parking lot and let him coast down the hill dozens of times while trying to keep his balance. Now that’s the way to teach a child balance! No more of this running along besides the bike holding it up and hoping that you don’t get a heart attack.

Trust me folks, I have 4 children; I think one of the worst and most inefficient ways to teach your child to ride a bike is by use of training wheels.

Two days of practice without pedals (30 min. each)…

Today, pedals and off he goes!

My son has been messing around with training wheels for a year and hadn’t learned any balance. Hence, of course, he cannot ride a bike.

Well, he couldn’t until yesterday and today. Today, I got my way! And today he rides a bike, no problem!

Let old Mike tell you young parents how to teach your children to ride a bike:

First: remove the pedals and training wheels.

Second: find a nice low slope where the child can practice “gliding” down the slope.

Third: keep repeating this over and over for an hour or so for two or three days (maybe less)

Four: when the child can “glide” return the pedals and then help your child by holding the back of the bike while they pedal.

Five: You should be done. The child can ride the bike.

Six: Give the kid a hug and have yourself a drink.

Trust me folks. This works every time.

Ah, sweet efficiency and a lack of frustration!

What does this have to do with marketing? Everything! Because frustration and exhaustion are not conducive to creative thinking… So, if you have a child who you need to teach how to ride a bike, then take my advice: Take off the training wheels and let the child practice “gliding” down a low slope in order to gain balance. Once the child does, put the pedals back on and, after a few pushes and support runs with dad, you’re there!

It’s so much easier and less frustrating… Then you can open a bottle of wine and celebrate… And come up with some good ideas!


Keywords: bike, bicycle