TV Night

Author: mirai  //  Category: All Posts, Theater, TV, and the Arts

Last night was TV night. Both Crystal and myself were invited to be on an NHK TV program about post war Japan.

We met at Shibuya station and walked over to the NHK building.  Although we had a map, we somehow managed to get completely lost on the way there, and had to stop for directions a couple of times.  We eventually found the building, but it was so huge and had so many entrances, we weren’t quite sure where to go.  So, with both of us having the worst sense of direction and luck, we managed to find the wrong entrance.  After asking the door lady where to go, she told that the entrance we were looking for was on the other side of the building.  Now usually it wouldn’t have been such an ordeal to just walk around the building to the proper entrance, but the building was so humongous, it took a good 15 to 20 minutes to get halfway around it.  It was like trying to walk around the outside of Disneyland.

This gave Crystal and myself a good chance to talk and catch up since we last spoke in January.  From our last meeting, I kind of got the impression that she didn’t like talking too much and liked to keep to herself.  But after yesterday, I found Crystal to be pretty talkative and quite interesting.

We eventually made it to “the other side” of the building.  By then, we were both exhausted and dehydrated by the heat.  We were greeted by the AD (assistant director) who guided us up to a meeting room for a briefing before the actual shooting.  There were 20 other Americans there including us. and there we 20 Japanese in the room next to us doing the samething. Seated next me, was a lady who looked vaguely familar, but I could quite place where I saw her until I was right net to her.  She was wearing her trademark red white and blue cheerleader uniform with “USA” printed across it.

Inside the briefing room

I then realized that it was Cydonnie, and up and coming foriegn talent often seen on variety shows in Japan.  She was definately the most high spirited and out spoken of any of us, and a sure favorite amongst the celebrities that were hosting the show.  Cydonnie and I got to talking and I told her that I was interested in theater arts and maybe doing a TV show or commercial someday. She introduced me to several talent agencies that she was registered under in Tokyo, and  has her own radio program and is a regular on many TV shows.  She showed me how to get myself into the talent business, which is something I have been wanting to do(along with theater of course) since I moved to Japan.

After the briefing, we all got escorted to the main studio.  There was a stage where the host, co-host and theeir guests would be seated. And then there was the audience seats, where we were seated.  Crystal and I were both towards the back.  At first I thought that since we were in the back, we would not be on camera much.  But from the looks of it, it was quite the opposite.  Crystal was seated in the opposite end of the row from me.  Strategically, we were both in VERY sweet seats. 

Everyone settling into their seats. Cydonnie can be seen here in her trademark cheerleader outfit.

The seats were on sort of a raised inclined platform (kind of like a movie theater). My seat and Crystal’s seat were right by a set of steps that lead up to our row.  So anytime one of the hosts needed to speak to someone, they need to climb these step, hence giving us a shot on camera

One of the hosts was Emily Nakayama, and pretty popular talent in Japan. Before last night, I didn’t particularly have any favorable impressions of Emily.  She often comes off as a complete ditsy airhead on TV, so I didn’t like her much.  Often times, when you meet a celebrity in person, you’d think they’d be the same person in person, as they are on TV.  But that is hardly the case.  Most of the times, they are quite rude or obnoxious.  I have met several Japanese celebrities in the past, and only one was really down to earth and nice, and that was Tetsuya Takeda.  He often plays the role of junior high school teacher in a TV drama called “Kinpachi Sensei” which has been running off and on for the past 20 years. I was actually his interpretter when I lived on Guam.  He came to play a roiund of golf at the country club I worked at, and I gave him the total VIP treatment.  At the end of the day, I greeted him after his game of golf and asked if I could get a photograph of him. He grabbed me, and gave me a huge bear hug.  He was so nice!

Emily Nakayama in one of her more recent commercials dressed as the Statue of Liberty

In contrast, I also met Masatoshi Hamada or “Hama-chan”, one half of the comedy duo “Downtown”; famous for slapstick and Kansai (Osaka style) humor.  He is very funny on TV and seems like a fun person to meet, but in reality, he was a big time JERK!  And almost everyone I have talked to or has met Hamada, says the same thing. He did allow me take a picture of him, but the whole time, he pretended as if he didn’t understand a word I was saying.  Everytime I said something to him, he would respond “wakarahen! wakarahen!” (I don’t understand you)  And as he walked away, we mumbled to his manager “gaijin no iukoto wa homma ni wakarahen!” (I don’t understand a word that foreigner was saying).  I was speaking more clearer and more standardized Japanese than he was, so I was quite offended when he said that.  It was clearly because of my looks and not what I was saying. 

Anyways,  during the show we basically sat through and watched about what seemed like 2 hours of video tape of post war film, propaganda, and documentaries of Japan.  Some of it was quite interesting, but some of it was a complete bore!  As we were watching the video clips, there were cameras in the audience filming our facial expressions and reactions to the film.  We were instructed not to look directly at the camera so that it seemed very candid.  But when you have a big black camera lense less than two feet away from your face, you can’t help but to look sometimes.  I noticed that Cydonnie faked a lot of her reactions by nodding her head a lot, and smiling , even laughing at the scenes that really didn’t call for a laugh or a look of interest.  But when she did this, it almost always attracted a camera our way.  And so, being a complete dork, I emmulated her and also faked and exaggerated some reactions.  And guess what? It worked!! It worked so well, that with the combination of me and Cydonnie hamming it up for the camera, one of the cameras actually parked and stayed stationed near us throughout most of the time we were watching the clips.

Later on, Emily and Ryuji Miyamoto (the other host of the program) walked around the audience and asked some predetermined questions such as our opinions about the military bases in Okinawa, or if we though that Japan and the US where dependant on each other. We all had predetermined answers which we prepared through email correspndance with the AD a few days prior to the show.  Crystal and myself got two hits each whereas most of the audience members got only asked one question or weren’t asked anything at all. Cydonnie got three hits!   She was definately the favorite because of her flamboyant and bright personality.  I think I was Miyamoto’s favorite because I almost got a third hit.  He walked over by me and said “Let’s here what Bobby (that’s my American name BTW) has to say about this”, but the AD stopped him and said “he’s already had two hits, please ask someone who hasn’t been asked.”  I giggled like a school girl. 

Everyone watching the video clips on a studio monitor

I had no idea that making a 2 hour show could be so involded.  It took a total of six hours to complete and everyone was exhausted.  If anyone think that the job that these people do on TV is easy, well its not!  It is a real job! A fun one, but a job none the less.

After the taping, I figured that the celebrities would just go and scuttle off into their private rooms.  But amazingly Emily kind of stuck around and chatted it up with us for a few minutes, while writing mail on her cell phone.  When I saw that, I realized that she is really just a plain jane person who happens to be on TV a lot.  I appoached her and asked if I could get a photo with her and I was so surprised at how nice she was.  It totally changed my image of her.  I even called Crystal over and got her in a shot, which I kept screwing up and had to keep retaking, but Emily was very patient about it and thanked us for takiing her picture.  Perhaps it was fake politeness, but it’s so much better than utter rudeness.

Another thing that amazed me is how tiny she was.  She must have been wearing 4 or 5 inch heals and she was still small. I’m not a particularly tall guy at 5’7″, so you can see in the photo how small she is.  She looks so big on TV so I was quite surprised by this.

Me pictured with Japanese TV talent, Emily Nakayama

Crystal and another participant pictured with Emily Nakayama 

Anyways, the whole TV experience was a blast.  And maybe we all do get only 15 minutes of fame, but seeing that I have used up only about 5 minutes of my 15 minutes, I will be looking to collect on the other 10 soon!

Life is Precious

Author: mirai  //  Category: Uncategorized

Quite a disturbing thing happened to me this weekend and it still kind of haunts me.  I noticed that a bird (a little sparrow) had gotten into my bedroom.  Somehow it had gotten itself trapped in a little space between the doggy toilet and the wall.  I wasn’t quite sure if it was stuck or injured, so instead of attempting to pick it up and risking further injury to it, I decided to open all of the bedroom windows in the hopes that it will fly out on its own. But it didn’t budge.

I’m not too keen on touching wild birds, even though this one couldn’t have been no larger than a ping pong ball.  As a kid, I owned parakeet and often held it my hands and placed it on my shoulders, so I wasn’t afraid of touching small birds.  But who knows where this bird came from. For all I know it could be sick with rabies and looking to die in my bedroom.  But from the looks of it, it looked healthy and uninjured; just very frightened.

I gave it about 30 minutes with all the windows opened, but it still didn’t look as if it wanted to leave.  After looking at it (from a distance, so that I didn’t frighten it any further or injure it) I came to the conclusion that it didn’t move, because it couldn’t. Its wings were somehow being held together from being stuck between the wall and the doggy poddy.  So I figured that by moving the poddy out of the way a bit, it would dislodge it and it would be free to go.

I made absolutely sure that there were no obstructions between the bird’s current position and the open windows, so it wouldn’t bump into anything on the way out.  I remembered when I had my parakeet, I would often let it fly freely inside the house.  But to this, I would have to make sure that all of the curtains were closed and the doors and windows were shut.  A bird can’t tell if the window is open or closed, so they can run into them and cause serious injuries to themselves. Luckily, my bedroom has a big sliding glass door that leads out onto a veranda (balcony), so there was a big enough opening to fly out if it wanted. 

After making sure that all of the obstructions were out of the way and the bird had a totally free passage to the outside world, it was time to let the tiny sparrow free.  I crawled closely to the ground so that the bird didn’t see me and get frightened off into the wrong direction.  Ever so carefully, I slowly pulled back on the doggy poddy that had kept the poor bird prisoner for the last hour. Little by little, I could feel the plastic poddy, giving away to inertia and starting to move.

Just as the poddy moved back, the tiny sparrow jumped out of the tiny space that had held it captive, and made a mad flight for the open window.  I held my breath hoping that it would not smack into the wall or become entangled in the curtains.  But it safely made it out of the window.

I watched in relief as it fluttered its wings and soared for the skies.  Satisfied that I did my good deed for the day, I was about to head into my bedroom when I heard this loud “CAAW CAAW” sound coming from above.  It was a huge ugly black crow, and it swooped down from nowhere.  It did a diving manuever towards the little sparrow that I had just freed seconds earlier, and knocked it into a wall of a neighboring building. The sparrow recovered quickly from the attack, and tried to get away, but the big black bird scooped it up into its beek and overwhelmed the poor sparrow, and flew out of my sight.

I felt so sad from this.   I suddenly felt very weak as if someone let all of the air out of a tire.  I couldn’t help but think that I was responsible for the death of that poor bird.  It probably flew into my bedroom seeking refuge from being attacked by a flock of crows that were congregating nearby. And I all did was help the crows by shoving the little sparrow back into the face of danger. 

I tried to think positively, and hoped that since I didn’t actually see the crow kill that little sparrow, that it may have struggled free and gotten away.  But my mind always went back to cold hard reality that the sparrow was indeed killed and probably fed to a nest full of little baby crows.

I was overwhelmed by the hole situation, and sat there for several minutes.  Why did this have to happen to me.  I tried to do the right thing and this is the way I get repaid?  It made me wonder if this was an omen or just sheer bad luck.  I nearly cried, but I figured that crying is not going to bring back the sparrow or make things any better.  It forced me think that that’s just nature, and no matter how cruel it may have looked to me, I just have to accept that that is the circle of life….


Author: mirai  //  Category: All Posts, Theater, TV, and the Arts

As some people may already know, I have been into theater arts since childhood.  I’ve loved theater, whether its watching it on stage or actually being a part in a production, for a long time.  Of course, it has been MANY years since I have had any part in any kind of real production.  I did take a quite a few classes during my college days and hoped to get into some kind of amatuer production, but the true aspiring thesbians (<-I like this word ) were VERY good (too good) and they discouraged me from going any further down this path.  But throughout the years, I have often thought about getting back into it, just as hobby.  I joined a local theater company in Tokyo called “Tokyo International Players” last year, but have yet to be in any of their productions.  They do four major productions a year, and usually the spring production is a musical.  Last year, they did “Fiddler on the Roof” in which I auditioned for.  I was very rusty, but still, I think I performed fairly well at the audition. I was pretty satisfied with my perfermance. Unfortunately, it was not enough to land a role.  This year, they  were suppose to do “A Chorus Line”, but I think the theater company had a hard time getting permission or paying the royalties to be able host this musical, so it was cancelled.  I think I may try out for their fall production which probably won’t be a musical, but that’s okay.  I have never been in an musical so I prefer doing non-musicals first to just shake the rust off.
Anyways, its off season now, so the theater company is pretty inactive.  I was thinking of joining a smaller theater company that is much closer to where I live.  They’re called the “Yokohama Theatre Group”, but I don’t think they do any major productions.  If they do, I think its very infrequent -like once a year or something like that.  They are more of a “get together and and have an impromptu” type of shop, which can be fun, but I have yet to attend any of their meetings.  And plus, you have to pay to attend any of their meetings. Its only a 1000 yen though, so its no big deal.
Tokyo International Players also sends out regular newsletters and notices to the members for anything that may be going on, like commercial shootings or TV drama auditions, local productions, or extras…  Last week, I got a newsletter advertising for  Japanese speaking Americans to attend a taping of a TV show on NHK as studio audience members.  I think they’ll even select a few people out of the studio audience to actually speak about the topic, which will be “post-war Japan.”  Although this is hardly the big times, I figured it would be kind of cool to be on TV, and plus, they pay 15,000 yen for your time.  So I applied and recieved an answer immediately from one of the producers.  She told me that she was also looking for a female Japanese speaking American in the area as well.  Initially, I thought about inviting my friend Saori, but I don’t think she’d be interested in something like this.   Besides, I thnk she is so Japanese, that they would not feel she was American enough.  But that’s just my opinion.  So, after some thought, I decided to contact Crystal.  LA born and raised, you can’t get anymore American than that. Crystal was very happy about the invite and also sent an application in.
I didn’t think I was going to get this, But I did!!  And so did Crystal!  So we will both be going to NHK on the 26th for the filming of this TV show.  I think the actual airing will be sometime in June.  But hopefully, I can record this and somehow encode it so that I can post it up on the web.  And who knows, it may lead me to another part on TV!


A Night With the Family

Author: mirai  //  Category: All Posts, Family and Friends

Last Saturday, I spent my evening at my grandmother’s house in Tokyo.  My mother is visiting from the States and brought over a care package.  I only asked for one thing this time, and that was a whole pumpkin pie .  I have been addicted to pumpkin pie every since I was a kid.  As a matter of fact, my elementary school teacher told me once that if I eat too much pumpkin pie, that my head would turn into a pumpkin someday.  Being that I was still a stupid little kid, I took that pretty seriously.  Some short time later, I remember seeing a scarecrow in a corn field on the way home from school.  It had a pumpkin for a head.  I remember thinking that, that must be what happens if you eat too much pumpkin.  But, I loved it so much, I didn’t let it stop me. Typically, a small slice of pumpkin pie would run in between 500-900 yen in Japan ($5-$9USD), so its not something you could have too often.  The pie that mother bought was about 10 inches in diamter, a size of a small pizza, and the price tag on it was $3.89.  400 yen for a whole pie as big as that is unthinkable in Japan.
My cousin, Ryo his wife, and his and son all came over and we all had dinner together at an izakaya (Japanese style pub).  The food was alright.  It was the first time I ate “Maguro no hoppeta” (the cheek of a tuna).  I didn’t know tuna’s had cheeks, but I tried it anyways.  I normally like tuna, but this did not fit me too well.  It had the texture of pork, but it tasted and smelled really fishy, in the literal sense of the word.  I thought that maybe I was just being picky, but everyone agreed that the tuna cheek tasted weird.  I heard that the area around the eyes of a tuna tastes really good when it is prepared as sashimi (raw fish).  I have never had this since this particular dish is really rare and very expensive.  The most expensive sashimi dish I’ve ever had was “cho -otoro” or (super Otoro -directly translated.) Its basically, a really fatty part of the tuna.  Since this pretty rare as well, it can be pretty pricey.  Mine cost 1,000 yen or about $10USD for 2 small slices.  But it tasted really good!
We returned to my grandmother’s later.  And for some odd reason, Ryo’s son went on some kind of  hyperactive fit -laughing uncontrollably and running around the room like crazy.  I think it was an acute case of a sugar high that he got from drinking two glasses of apple juice and scarfing down vanilla ice cream without touching the rest of his dinner.  He got so out of contral that he started knocking things over and giving everyone a headache.  I started getting pissed because Ryo wasn’t doing anything to get him back under control, and his wife kept screaming “do something!” to him.  But he just sat there typing out e-mail on his cell phone. Eventually, Ryo’s wife got so angry at the lack of attention that Ryo was giving the situatiion, that she picked up their belongings and insisted that they go home.  Ryo didn’t seem to care either way.  He seemed to care more about the mail that was on his cell.
 But from my past observations, this is the way typical Japanese parents raise their kids.  They spoil thems so much, that the kids can’t distinguish between what’s ok and what’s not ok, and the child can’t sense when their parents are angry with them. I contribute the rash of crime and craziness in Japan to the way these parents raise these would be criminals.  Like for example, the guy who kept an 18 year old girl chained to a door in his apartment for a year and insisted that she call him “master”.  The girl escaped last week and the guy was arrested.  When they examined his past, they found that he was an extremely spoiled kid.  His father couldn’t be bothered being around, so he just fed money to his wife and son, while the mother just spoiled him beyond what is considered “normal”.  She would do stuff like drive him to school (which was 5 minutes away -walking distance) in a Mercedes-Benz, and called him Oji-sama (“prince”or little master), to the point where he eventually he would insist that everyone (including his classmates) call him Oji-sama when he got older.  His mother commited suicide like 5 years ago, and he went nuts and started keeping women prisoner in his own home.  He even mentioned that he wanted a harem and went through relationship after relationship and marriage after marriage.  It seems that he had gotten married and divorced to 4 different women within a 3 and half year spand.

Anyways, my other cousin, Goh, also has a son, but he is VERY well-disciplined.  Goh and his wife do a very good job of disciplining and keeping their son in line.  Sometimes I can’t belive that he’s only 4 years old because of his level of maturity and discipline compared to the other kids I have seen.  If I ever have kids, hopefully they’re also as well disciplined.


Hollywood vs. Japan

Author: mirai  //  Category: All Posts, Rants and Raves, Theater, TV, and the Arts

A couple of nights ago, I watched the Japanese original version of the movie “Shall We Dance?”.  I remember when this movie was released a few years back.  I wasn’t too interested in it so I never watched it, despite all the hype and great reviews it got.  I’m just not a fan of Japanese movies probably because usually the acting sucks.  Being a theater person myself, I find it really hard to watch poor acting.
The other night, only for the reason that there was nothing else to watch on tv, I watched “Shall We Dance?”, and it was just about the best movie I have seen in recent times. The acting, the humor, the characters were excellent.  The movie was three hours long, and aside from a few flat spots here and there, the move held my interest the full three hours.  I think this movie was directed or produced by the same person who made “Shiko Funjatta”, a comedy about amateur sumo wrestling made in the early 90’s.  I have a personal liking for this movie because a friend and former co-worker of mine, Bob Hoffman played the role of George Smiley.  I didn’t make the association between Bob and this movie until months after I had met him, and happend to rewatch the movie again.
Tonight, I watched the newly released Hollywood version of “Shall We Dance?”, and needless to say I was quite disappointed.  The Hollywood version doesn’t do the Japanese version any kind of justice and I feel really sorry for those who will go to watch this movie and never know the original version.
First of all, the movie cuts about an hour off of the original, down to what seemed to be a very condensed version of the story.  But having said that, it did cut away some of the flat spots as well. The changes made to the story to made it more westernized and made it fit better in with American society. That part seemed to work well, but at the same time raised a few questions in my head.  Like for example, why would a lawyer take a train to work?  In Japan, commuting by train is not only common, but to many households, the only mode of transportation.  But in the States, I think most successful professionals would drive their sports cars or SUV’s to work.  But for the sake of the story, I accepted that the main character commuted by train.  Besides, I guess in a lot of urban parts of the States, there are people who do use public transportation regardless of status.
The second thing I had trouble with was the son.  In the original version, it was wa family of three, but in the Hollywood remake, they added a son. My question is WHY???  He served no purpose in the story than to add a very small unnessary scene in the movie.
Finally, the main thing I had a problem with was the actors and the acting. Richard Gere was totally wrong for the part as well as everyone else.  However, Jennifer Lopez did play a very convincing and good dance instructor.  She suprisingly held the movie together pretty well.  Richard Gere’s part was suppose to be played by a man who looks quite ordinary in appearance.  Someone who is tired of the rat race and being just a cog in the work place and family.  And yet Gere is just way too polished and too much of a gentleman for that role.  If I were the casting director, I would have chosen someone along thr lines of Tom Hanks. He’s much more versitile than Richard Gere is, and I believe he would have been a more convincing leading man.
The man who played the latin dancer, I felt, played it too well. With the wig and make-up, he looked too latin, hence taking away some of the humor.  I think in a real situation, an American guy dressed up as a latin rumba dancer is not as funny as a Japanese business man dressed up as a latin rumba dancer. So in that respect, although he played the role really well, he just didn’t work for me.
Susan Sarandon is one of my favorite actresses.  I think she has a strong presense and skills to play almost any role…that is except for this one.  The part called for a typical housewife  who has become accustomed to everyday life. Yet in the Hollywood version, they turned the housewife role in to a professional working mother role.  In that respect, Susan Sarandon is perfect for the part.  But the part was not right for the movie. I think that in reality, a professional working mother would be way too busy and too strong  to notice or worry about any minute changes in her husband’s behavior.
Everyone just seemed to like sattelites to a poor attempt to Ameicanize a great Japanese story. And the “Officer and a Gentleman” like ending was so cliche that is got on my nerves.
Overall, for anyone who plans to watch this movie, I strongly recommend that you watch the Japanese version FIRST.  The reason is because it is quite long and the story is told very concisely whereas the American version giives a more digested account.  After watching the original version, then watch the Hollywood version, I ‘m sure you will agree that the original is much better.

Golden Week In Yamaguchi

Author: mirai  //  Category: All Posts, Family and Friends, Life in general, Travel Blog

For the last several days now I have been spending some time with family members down in Yamaguchi perfecture.  This is my last night here.
This part of the country is really quite nice, because a lot of old world Japan is left over whereas Tokyo and Yokohama had been taken over by western modernization in the last 30 years.  A lot of the houses as still Japanese style and made of wood.  When you walk into these houses, you can smell the strong aroma of old wood, and its really quite nice. 
Yesterday we took a drive throughout the country-side.  Along the sides of the country road you can see farmers burning old weeds to ready their fields for the summer and fall crops.  You hardly ever see this in eastern Japan anymore unless you go futher up North.
What really amazed me most of all is the fact that there are still parts of Japan where the presence of westerners are still very rare.  I actually got looks from local shop owners and people in the supermarkets.  I guess it was the first time that they got a look a “foriegn looking” person in person.  But unlike my childhood days, I didn’t feel akward or unwelcomed.  It was a more of a look of intrigue and couriousity.
As a matter of fact, I had quite an interesting and amusing conversation with some local children who obviously had never seen a non-Japanese looking person up close.  They couldn’t tell whether I was Japanese or not so one of the children asked me “are you from a foriegn county?”.  I answered “yes” and the rest of them gathered around me as if I were some sort of god.  He then asked “do you own a gun?” to which I responded “of course not!”.
They all looked at eacher a bit puzzled as if I had told them that Santa Claus doesn’t exist.  But I understood why they asked this question.  The Japanese media often portrays foriegners (especially Americans) as gun toting terrorists.  And although I cannot discredit that fact completly, I tried to reassure the children that I didn’t have nor own a gun.
Then seemed satisfied with my answer, but it only prompted another question: “why do foriegners always kill other people?”  But I simply answered that Japanese people kill other Japanese too.  However, I don’t think they were too pleased with that answer.  Again, this is due to media conditioning, and that the Japanese are a gentle race of people and don’t infilct harm on others. Overall, I’d say that the Japanese are less agressive than western people when it comes to crime, but it still happens here.  And from my personal observations, it seems to be becoming more common lately.
Then, finally one of the children whispered into an ear of another child.  He then said, “You don’t act like a foriegner; I think you’re a Japanese  just with a dark tan.” I smiled at him and responded, “I guess in a way, you’re right.”

PSP Geek

Author: mirai  //  Category: All Posts, Rants and Raves, Techie Stuff

I am off until the 9th!  Yay!!  God bless golden week!
A few weeks ago, I read somewhere that someone hacked their PSP so that they’re able to surf the internet over a wireless network connection.  Soon the news and the “how to” got all over the internet.  Basically, all need is a PSP, a wireless connection, and copy of Wipe Out Pure (the game that contains a hidden internet browser). 
Well, as of last Sunday, I had all three, and being the computer nerd that I am, I decided to try the hack. 
I followed the instructions on one of the many websites that tell you how to do this.  It simply involved putting in an IP address of some DNS server with a special entry, somewhere on the internet, that repointed the WipeOut Pure software to some other fake Sony website. The programming inthe software appeaantly looks for  SCEA.COM. But, after attempting the hack, all it did was freeze up my PSP, and displays a solid gray screen.  I tried several variations of the hack and different DNS servers (given on the How TO website). None worked.
Since the hack was discovered by someone in the States, I quickly realized that the Japanese version of the Wipe Out Pure game was slightly different from teh ones being sold overseas.  For one thing, the real SCEA site on the Japanese version (where you’d normally download monthly updates for the Wipe Out Pure game) is completely in Japanese.  This immediately told me that the Japanese version does not point to the same site as the overseas versions. So my task was to try to find where the Japanese version is pointing to, and somehow either repoint it, or emulate the site itself.
The original hacker used a network sniffer (a device that is able to catch data being transmitted on the network and find out its source and destination).  I don’t have a network sniffer at home although it wouldn’t be too hard to find the software on the net.
But I had a better idea.  My DNS server at home logs and caches all lookups being made to it, so I simply needed to attempt to connect with my PSP and then look at the DNS cache to see where it was  pointing to.
Using this technique, I was able to figure out that the Japanese version of Wipe Out Pure does connect to a different site (form the overseas counterparts); something like SCEA-J.JP or something like that.
Now, was the hard part.  There was no way in my limited knowledge of how this PSP works, for me to hack into the software so that J version of the software pointed to the same place that the overseas versions do.  But I do have good computer skills, so I was able to create entrys in my DNS server and tell it to repoint any lookups to SCEAJ to the fake SCEA site on the internet.  That would have been the easy and quickest fix.  But instead on relying on some unknown fake SCEA server on the internet  to give me access to the web. I decided to do one better. I decided to create my own fake SCEA server or “portal” as the hacker calls at home.  It was quite easy and only took about 15 minutes to create a webserver with a small little search engine on it, since the internal broswer doesn’t come with a URL address field.
After about 30 minute tinkering with my home DNS and web servers. I was able to see the web on my PSP.  Not very pretty but it works quite well.  I was thinking to make my servers accessible from the out side so that I can check my mail with my PSP when I take my lunch breaks at the park.
By the way here is a pic of this site on my PSP.

Fun stuff eh?

A Surreal Golden Week

Author: mirai  //  Category: Uncategorized

It’s May and Golden Week has officially begun.  This is the time of year when almost everyone in this country goes on holiday.  Its kind of a ridiculous holiday because almost all modes of transportation going out of Tokyo is packed beyond capacity.

I usually don’t like to travel during Golden Week; I usually like to work during Golden Week and then travel the week after to beat the rush.  But since last year, I have been traveling during Golden Week because, since I am the only person in the company who has any clue or any interest in how the machinary works at the office, I ‘ve gotta plan my time offs around the business.  That means I have to take my vacations when the business does.  I’m really not use this and personally I think it sucks.

Tomorrow, I will spend a whole day at work and then I am off until the 9th.  During that time, I will be making some really critical decisions about my carrer and life in general.  But, I am not going to discuss this until I have everything completely worked out in my head.

On a different note, I bought “Wipe Out Pure” for my PSP yesterday.  I found a 5000 yen gift certificate that my credit card company had sent me for getting a gold card serveral months ago. So I used it to get this new game.  When I first played it, I kind of regretted buying it.  It reminds my of a game that Nintendo  came out with in the mid 90’s called “F-ZeroGX”.  Even that game was pretty lame.

Wipe Out Pure


I’m not really into these futuristic spaceship racing games.  I’m more into driving simulators like Gran Turismo (which I am really looking forward to)or RPG games. But as I played WOP more and more, it turned out to be okay afterall.  You can even download new updates over the internet.  But you still can’t play oponents over the net without the hack, which is pretty lame.

Well, tomorrow is another day, so thats it for now.