I am currently lording it in Japan and am here for the launch of a new Japanese umbrella body, JUBBLIES (Japanese Umbrella Backing Body - Lunching In Endless Sushi). The flight was a shocker. When I was younger I was excited by long trips and travel but now the whole thing is a pain the arse. I had my umbrella confiscated at security (for being a possible weapon) and wasn't allowed to take my dandelion and burdock bottle through as it breached their so called 100 ml rule. You'd think they'd put some signs up to warn people about these ludicrous rules wouldn't you? As a result I arrived knackered and crabby.
For company I have BUBB's international director Pepe Ohdearie but to be honest I haven't seen much of him since we have been here as he has been off larging it in some of Tokyo's more leftfield gentlemen's clubs.
Being asked here is a great honour and the fact that JUBBLIES has adapted our own name speaks volumes for their lack of imagination in anything accept electronics, gadgets and crazy gameshows. I can envisage other far East countries adapting this model so we may well see CHUBBIES or KUBBIES in the future - and you can see here that the North Koreans are already replicating my combination of dictatorial leadership and brolly love.
Another thing the Japanese have take on on board is my love of as many launches as possible and JUBBLIES is getting 404 in different cities over the next 18 weeks of my (essential) visit.
I am asked to give a speech at the first event. There is a slight cock up and a mistranslation means that I do 80 minutes rather than the 80 words they had requested. I drone on about all the great things BUBB does that JUBBLIES could learn from though my remark about the Japanese record on running prisons falls a little flat. I also drop in one of my finely honed anecdotes with a tenuous Japanese connection. Usually the tale of the day my Sony television caught fire is a guaranteed trouser splitter but this lot sit there stony faced.
The Japanese have a touching respect for brollies and a great flair for umbrella design though the traditional bamboo and paper ones (click here) that were popular in days gone by would be bugger all use in a right proper British downpour. However, some of the modern gadgetry jiggery pokery is way out there (see here, here, here and here). While I am not one to make sweeping generalisations on a whole nation's characteristics, let's face it, the Japs are flipping bonkers.
I have been taught a lot about the great Japanese traditions around umbrella martial arts (or gampkido as it is known) by my good friend, headhunter extraordinaire Donald Holding. He is still the only westerner to come to Japan and beat the shit out of some locals with a golf umbrella. And he got an MBE for it, while other more deserving recipients of Royal recognition remain ignored.
All in all the trip has been a real Japs-eye opener. However, I am finding the endless round of raw fish luncheons a bore, and the saki is filthy. My back is killing me from sitting on the floor all the time. And I am going to have to buy some socks without holes in as I am always being asked to remove my shoes.