Pretty scary stuff, eh?
Japan, like any other nation, has its share of right-wing crazies. Today’s United States, for example, has more than ten times its fair-share of fruit-ball right-wingers. In fact, even though their numbers are quickly dwindling as the bar is closed and the party is over, right-wing basket-cases can even get “elected” to be the president in the United States. It’s unfair, I say! Why does Japan always have to get gypped in these kinds of deals? Why can’t we have our own right-wing imperialist dog as leader of this country?
We need the entertainment.
Now, while in the United States, these fruit-loops are taken seriously by a wide range of folks — folks whose names usually begin with initials like J.D., etc. In Japan, nobody takes the right-wingers seriously anymore. I mean how could you? How could any intelligent person? So when you hear nonsense of a right-wing movement in Japan, I’ll bet it could have a lot to do with a cultural misunderstanding and a lack of knowledge of the Japanese language.
By the way, I’d like to mention here, that the right-wing movement in the United States — fashionably called “The Neo-Con movement” — has now been found to be linked to a reptilian impulse left over in these folks’ brains from way back in the days when they evolved up from lizards and snakes. This nerve center in their brain emits Dopamine — a natural “feel good” drug — anytime they see any quick actions or movements of some sort of animal flesh being kicked, booted, or just sloshed around. That’s why you’ll find that today’s right-wing crank-case is usually a big fan of professional sports like the NFL.
But I digress. Some who visit Japan say that leftist and rightist groups are everywhere. So what’s new? The big difference? The leftist clowns drive around in big white buses and vans with loud speakers blaring out some sort of nonsense about this or that. The rightist clowns drive around in big blue buses and vans with loudspeakers blaring out nonsense about that or this. The funny part is that both groups hire the same people to drive their vehicles. You will often see a huge bus screaming down the street blaring out some message that the emperor should be restored to head of state or that Japan should re-militarize the Rhineland, er, I mean, re-militarize the four small islands north of Hokkaido that the Soviets “stole” at the end of World War II. I chuckle every time I see these buses because even though the bus could ride 60 people, there is usually only one inside; the driver.
The very same people who go around the country organizing festivals for different towns (kind of like the circus in the US) are the very same people who drive these buses — as part-time work — during the festival off-season. No joke. How do I know this? One of my friends is a Yakuza named Gon. He told me that this is what he does for a living. One day he might be driving a bus for the commies, the next for the fascists. What the hell, eh? It pays the bills. What does he care who he’s driving the bus for as long as they pay — and pay well, I might add.
This is where I’d like to introduce to you my new favorite choice for the next imperial leader of Japan. His name is Torihada Minoru. Torihada translates into “goosebumps." And this guy has got to be the most misunderstood person in Japan (I’m second).
Look at that ridiculous feather! Sensational!
Anyone who caught a glimpse of Torihada Minoru’s act might think that they’ve stumbled onto the ultimate in right-wing Zippo lighters, and they’d be right — well, sort of. When I first saw Torihada Minoru, I was shocked. I didn’t know what to think. I was speechless — and that’s not easy to do. Then I started paying attention to what he was saying and I realized that I was witnessing a cultural break-through in humor. Torihada Minoru is the first Japanese comedian to venture into taboo subjects like the Imperial Family and make a mockery of Imperial Japan. And it’s not just Imperial Japan that he ridicules, it’s imperialists everywhere.
Torihada Minoru is the closest thing Japan has to an American “Shock-Jock." What he says is shocking — shockingly absurd that is — and that’s where the joke comes in. In a country that is severely lacking a sense of humor, this makes for him to be very misunderstood by the general public. I think the guy is hilarious. He is the funniest Japanese comedian I have ever seen in my life. In fact, I’d say that he won’t “make it” because he must be 30 to 50 years ahead of the curve for humor in Japan.
Torihada has been banned — not by the government, but by the broadcasting networks — from TV and radio in this country (a man after my own heart) because they are afraid of what he is going to say. You see, the dorks who run these stations don’t get the joke so they think he is a serious right-winger. So when they invited him to speak on their shows, he’d say something outrageously stupid and just be dropping people’s jaws. Program directors and producer’s heads would roll and the telephones would light up like crazy. Torihada Minoru, like a modern day Japanese ninja, had struck again.
One time when he was on a very serious talk show (how did that ever happen?) the anchor-man asked him his views on North Korea and how North Korea wants money and an apology from Japan over Japan’s previous colonization of that country. Torihada took a deep breath, furrowed his brow, and said with a straight face, “Tell them that if they want an apology and money, that we want our peninsula back!” I just burst out laughing. Oh Lordy, did the doo-doo ever hit the fan on that one! The station quickly went to a commercial. And I hear that they had to drag him out of the TV studio, kicking and screaming. Hilarious! If this guy isn’t punk rock, I don’t know what is.
I read a review of one of his live performances from last year. This is what it said:
During the first ten minutes of the show, glassy eyed, he sings the praises of Soka Gakkai, the Buddhist group that claims one-tenth the population of Japan. The routine spirals into paranoia; he starts banging on about cosmic energy and confides that Soka Gakkai control the TV stations and entertainment industry, so he signed up in order to become famous. He segues into a familiar story for many Japanese. Five or ten years after graduation, out-of-the-blue, there is a mysterious call from a forgotten classmate. A cheerful and meandering reminiscence follows, with the caller finally coming to the point — vote for Komeito (a right-wing political party), join Soka Gakkai and buy Amway.
When I saw him, it went sort of like this then he whipped out a little Casio keyboard and started singing the David Bowie song, “Let’s Dance.” Is this guy funny, or what?
Torihada Minoru doesn’t aspire to be a celebrity and is happy with the persona he has created and his cult following. He is a student of the great comedians. He is also an expert on world history. In fact, he says that even though he doesn’t understand a word of what Adolf Hitler says, he enjoys watching old newsreels. He says, “Hitler comes off, to me, as a brilliant comedian.” I suppose most would disagree with that. But with how things are going in this twisted world today, I can see that completely.
Photo by Michael Donovan
Even though Torihada ridicules the right — and many of the reptilian mindset can’t figure out it’s a joke and will be cheering and clapping to his nonsense — he has no political goals and no policy; so I guess that makes him an anarchist. “I went into comedy because I figured it would be a good way to meet girls,” he says.
So I guess guys like Torihada just show the superiority of the American right-wing mind-set. While guys like him are misunderstood and marginalized in Japan; in America, you elect guys like Torihada — No! — Guys who aren’t nearly as funny and intelligent as Torihada to the presidency. And, in America, you get to watch them on TV every night! It’s just not fair!
Mike (in Tokyo) Rogers [send him mail] was born and raised in the USA and moved to Japan in 1984. He has the distinction of being fired from every FM radio station in Tokyo — one of them three times. His first book, Schizophrenic in Japan, is now on sale.