Monthly Archives: October 2013

End of the Road for Waratte Iitomo

Waratte Iitomo, Tamori

A Japanese TV institution is coming to an end. On the Tuesday afternoon edition of “Waratte Iitomo” (It’s Okay to Laugh) comedian host Tamori (real name Morita Kazuyoshi) confirmed rumors that the live studio show will air for the last time next March after 32 years on the Fuji TV network. The show is broadcast with a live (and almost entirely female) audience from Studio Alta next to Shinjuku station in Tokyo every weekday, with highlights and outtakes shown on Sundays.

The show features regular celebrity co-hosts who rotate during the week. On Tuesday, they included SMAP member Nakai Masahiro, who brought up the rumors and had them confirmed by Tamori.

The very first show was aired on October 4 1982, when the special “Telephone Shocking” guest was pop legend Sakurada Junko. The show is what established Tamori as one of the best known faces in the nation.

On April 5, 2002, Tamori set the Guinness World Record for the longest continued hosting of a live television program with the show’s 5000th edition. Tamori, with his trademark sunglasses (worn to conceal an eye injury suffered many years ago) is one of Japan’s trinity of top television comedians, along with Kitano “Beat” Takeshi and Akashiya Sanma.

See the Japan Zone profile of Tamori.

RIP Anpanman creator Yanase Takashi

Yanase Takashi, Anpanman

After all the updates on the damage being caused by the biggest typhoon to hit Japan in 10 years, today’s morning variety shows discussed the sad loss of animator Yanase Takashi. He died of heart failure on Sunday at the ripe old age of 94. Energetic and optimistic until hospitalized with liver cancer in August, Yanase was the creator of some of Japan’s best loved anime characters.

“Soreike Anpanman” was first broadcast in 1988, when Yanase was already a veteran at the age of 69. Starring a superhero with a head made of anpan (sweet bean bun) the central theme of the show for young children was justice, compassion, and self scrifice. Anpanman was regularly called upon to help those in need, when he would invariably let them eat a chunk of his anpan head. Yanase has said that the theme grew out of his harsh experiences serving in the Imperial Army in China during WWII.

Soreike Anpanman featured a never ending cast of characters, and was recognized by Guinness Book of World Records in 2009 for the record 1,768 different characters who had appeared on the show. After northeastern Japan was devastated in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, the show’s theme song was often played in the region to cheer up survivors.

Actress Toda Keiko (56) spoke of her sadness, “Mr. Yanase was the Anpanman. He embraced us gently and taught us to share. We’ve lost a precious guiding post.”

Yanase became a cartoonist after a more traditional career at a newspaper company and the Mitsukoshi department store. In 1961 he gained fame as the lyricist of the popular kids song, “Te no hira wo taiyo ni”.

We screwed up and we’re sorry

We're very sorry.
We’re very sorry.

When shopping online, there is nothing worse than finding exactly what you want to buy and not being able to actually buy it. Well, unfortunately that was what happened to many of our customers yesterday. The reason was a technical glitch caused during an overhaul of the payment processing system that resulted in an error for customers in the U.S. We worked through the night to both get the problem fixed and to stay in contact with those customers who were kind enough to point out the problem and give us a chance to sort out their order “manually.” A very big thank you to them for their patience and confidence in our ability to live up to our own high customer service standards. The good news is that we got all those orders sorted and they are being processed right now.

Still, I’d like to apologize to them and to anyone else who found their visit to Japan Store yesterday to be frustrating and a waste of their time. We will endeavor to avoid a similar situation happening again in the future.

But moving on, there is other good news – the overhaul now means we can offer Express Checkout from PayPal. This makes the checkout process incredibly simple if you have a PayPal account, and much simpler even if you’d prefer to pay by credit card (in which case you don’t even need to have or to open an account with PayPal).