Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Dan Gillmor's organizing a Tokyo bloggers meeting. Unfortunately, I will be in Austria, but Tokyo bloggers, please sign up and show him a good time.

Dan Gillmor
Tokyo Blogger Gathering?

Arrived in Tokyo last night for a few days. Considering a blogger gathering on Tuesday evening, probably in Akasaka. Shoot me an e-mail, or post a comment below, if you think you can make it.

That' me holding Ben

Ethan and Ben

At the Emerging Tech conference, more than one person noted the striking resemblance between Ethan Zuckerman and Benjamin Franklin. Coincidence? You decide.

A lot of the people working on emergent democracy look founding fatherish. I wonder if you start looking like a founding father after you start pondering or whether looking in the mirror each day causes you to go down the "pondering about democracy" path. Where does that put me?

Interesting article by Mike Rogers describing the influence of the popular Japanese TV drama Oshin and mustached Japanese soldiers in Iraq. Also some interesting perspectives about the ability to identify with suffering and Japan's relationship with the Middle East.

Alright, think about Oshin. Think about that story and that kind of suffering. I don't think Americans can relate to that. Of course Japanese can.

And, get this: Oshin has been broadcast in most Middle Eastern countries for at least the last 12 years. Iran? Sure. According to the Nikkei Shimbun News Oshin scores a remarkable 82% viewer rating; Iraq? Of course 76.7%; Thailand? 81.6%; China!? I thought most Chinese people hate Japanese because of the war! Yeah, well, maybe so, but they love Oshin! 75.9% viewer rating in China; Poland? 70%.

Gee, I wonder if the people in the Middle East can relate to this kind of starvation, suffering, and pain? Of course they can.

Which brings me to the next part of this puzzle: The Japanese military has ordered all troops in Iraq to grow beards and moustaches. Weird, eh? Well, no... Smart. Besides understanding the ways of society in the Middle-East, Oshin's husband has a moustache. Don't believe me? Check this out:

* Japanese army opts for new form of camouflage

Via Bob

"We will not take part in the funeral for freedom."

A cell-phone text message circulated in Iran to protest against a clampdown on reformists in last weeks of parliamentary elections.

I woke up this morning with a headache and decided I needed to get my circulation going. I told Marko and he suggested avantouinti. Hmmm...

Marko took me to the Finnish Sauna Society sauna where we hung out in traditional smoke saunas for awhile with a bunch of naked Finnish men. The saunas were covered in soot from the way they prepare them using real wood fires. The experience was about as similar to saunas back home as eating real sushi in Japan is similar to eating California supermarket sushi.

After we were thoroughly heated, we sauntered out to a hole in the ocean and jumped in. Avantouinti! ("ice hole swimming" in Finnish) For a moment I lost touch with my limbs and wasn't sure I'd make it out, but I survived. Then, we did a rinse, heat, repeat. The second time around was much easier and thoroughly enjoyable and it did indeed get my circulation going.

One funny thing I noticed was that every time something strange was about to happen, Marko would say, "this is VERY traditional." I remember when I was taking Marko around Japan, that's what I would say to him when I was about to feed him something pretty weird.

Anyway, Marko may have been trying to get me back for feeding him snapping turtle in Kyoto, but I enjoyed my avantouinti very much and recommend it to anyone who gets a chance.