Raw Japan

Slices of Japanese business, politics and life

Half-pipe dream up in smoke for Japan bad boy


Inclement weather has plagued the snowboard venue at the Olympics, but the storm clouds over Japan’s Kazuhiro Kokubo nearly prevented him from competing in Vancouver.

Ending eighth in the snowboard half-pipe finals with an apparent bloodied chin and lip,  Kokubo is also unlikely to have felt the last of a public bruising in Japan that began when some people thought he was scruffily dressed for his departure from Narita Airport and continued when he later seemed unrepentant.


Kokubo, whose unusual surname translates as “mother country”, was banned from the opening ceremonies in Canada and nearly disqualified by the team for his fashion mis-statement.

But in a scene reminiscent of a student-principal meeting, he and team captain Seiko Hashimoto agreed after an apology to let the nail stick out — at least through the half-pipe event — rather than facing the hammer.

High-flying in Tokyo


Are you are a frequent flyer to Japan looking for a faster, more luxurious way to get to Tokyo from the airport? Hiring a Hermes helicopter may be the ticket for you.

When I travel overseas, the trip usually begins or ends with a bus ride, costing 2,900 yen ($27) to get to Narita International Airport. But for business executives flying across the world to sign multi-million dollar deals, a 75,000 yen ($720) helicopter ride may be an option worth considering.